Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus in Context

Philosophia Antiqua
A Series of Studies on Ancient Philosophy
Previous Editors

J.H. Waszink† W.J. Verdenius† J.C.M. van Winden
Edited by

K.A. Algra F.A.J. De Haas J. Mansfeld C.J. Rowe D. T. Runia Ch. Wildberg


Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus in Context
Ancient Theories of Language and Naming

R. M. van den Berg


A C.I.P. record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. This book is printed on acid-free paper.

ISSN 0079-1687 ISBN 978 90 04 16379 9 Copyright 2008 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Hotei Publishing, IDC Publishers, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers and VSP. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. printed in the netherlands

To Judith .


.......................................... 4. 6............................ 7............ Introduction ................. Chapter Two The Middle Platonists: Constructing Platonic Doctrines ................. A handbook on the Cratylus: Alcinous Didaskalikos c. 43–160........................... 4.................................................... 41 ............ Conclusive remark: Plato..... Plutarch of Chaeroneia: the Cratylus as a theological dialogue ...............CONTENTS Acknowledgements ........... 5.................................................... 3......... The Cratylus: an outline .............. 5. 1.......................... Background: Stoic and Epicurean theories of language ................ Chapter Three Porphyry’s Aristotelian Semantic Theory and Proclus’ Platonic Criticism of it ................ 1.............................. 8.................................. Aristotle and the issue of the correctness of names ...... xi xiii 1 1 2 8 20 24 28 31 31 33 37 43 46 51 56 58 61 61 62 ....... 3. Introduction .......................................................................................... Chapter One Plato’s Cratylus and Aristotle’s De Interpretatione: Setting the Scene .......................... 2.................... 2.................................... 6.. Plotinus: naming Being .......................................................................... 1. 2........... Towards a dialectical interpretation of the Cratylus .......................................................... 6............................................ Philo of Alexandria ........................................................................ Conclusions ................................... Galen: a dissident voice ............................... Aristotle on language and philosophy ........ Tracing back the logical-etymological interpretation: Antiochus of Ascalon ...................... 159............................................................................................................... Aristotle on names: De Interpretatione ....... Introduction .. Introduction .............

.......................... 4......... 1.................... Chapter Five Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus (II): Naming....... The dialectical character of the Cratylus (In Crat......................... LXXX–XCV) ............................. (In Crat.......... I): the correctness of names and 3.................................................................. 6............ Iamblichus ................... 1............. 5... Introduction ................................................................ 8..................................................................................................... The dialectician: the user of names (In Crat.... Introduction ...................... 6...................................... Conclusions ............ 9. 3...... Proclus ......... Epicurus and the two meanings of (In Crat...... II–IX) ....... contents Porphyry . X–XIV) ................ 7.............. Socrates’ discussion with Hermogenes: the natural correctness of names ................. 6............................................... 4.......... The the human soul ................ and the Divine Intellect ................................ Two characters: two classes of things................................. The human legislator/name-giver and the divine Demiurge . 5............. Conclusions ...................... Proclus’ notes on the Cratylus ............... 93 93 94 96 98 103 106 109 123 131 135 135 135 139 147 156 160 ...... 2............................................................. XVII) .............................. 5........ 2.............. Names of mortal individuals (In Crat.......... Instruments: form and matter (In Crat.............................. A historical excursus (In Crat.......................................................... Dialectic...................................... LIX–LXVII) .......... two types of names (In Crat................. 4................... LIII–VIII) .................... 68 76 81 91 Chapter Four Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus (I): The Issue of the Correctness of Names .................. XVI–XVII) ............viii 3.................................................................................. Proclus on the correctness of names: some conclusions ..

............ 1................... Introduction . Index of subjects and names ............. 2...................................................... Proclus on the hermeneutics of divine names: concluding remarks ..... The nature of divine names (In Crat....................................................................................................................................... 2........ 7............... 1............ Play and salvation through names ........ 6................................. Introduction .............................contents Chapter Six Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus (III): Learning from Divine Names .......... Secondary literature ................ 3..................................................................... 9........................ 5................... Divine language: a paradox? (In Crat..................... 4.... Theology from divine names ........................... 2........... LXXII–LXXIX) ... Index of passages cited .... Proclus’ commentary on the etymological section ...................... Taking stock: Proclus’ interpretation of the Cratylus in Àve points ...................................... 2..................... Editions cited of the principal texts ............... The pedagogical function of etymology: names as playthings..................... Chapter Seven After Proclus ................................................................... ix 161 161 162 170 173 174 187 192 196 197 201 201 201 211 219 220 229 237 ............... 3................... LXXI) ........................... The theological function of etymology ..... 8............ Return to the harmony thesis ......................... Bibliography 1........................ Indices 1.........


I am also indebted to the anonymous referee for a number of useful suggestions and constructive criticisms. Jan Opsomer. Finally. no sooner had I started on this book than Judith came into my life. I have happy memories of the many. as a postdoctoral research fellow in Trinity College. David Sedley. Luc Brisson. Riccardo Chiaradonna. stimulating discussions. I greatly enjoyed my regular trips to the De Wulf-Mansion Centre for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy of the K. which was undertaken with the Ànancial support of the Netherlands Organisation for ScientiÀc Research (NWO) between 2001 and 2006. I was invited to conduct a seminar on that dialogue in the Dublin Centre for the Study of the Platonic Tradition. I Àrst started thinking seriously about the Cratylus when. Her loving support with the book has meant a lot to me. Brian Duvick kindly sent me a version of his forthcoming translation of Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus. My research has beneÀted much from these sessions and I am much indebted to all the participants. a project under the direction of Carlos Steel and Gerd van Riel that is dedicated to the study of Proclus’ and Damascius’ commentaries on Plato. While working on this book. I owe a special debt to Carlos Steel for his expert advice and untiring assistance in the past years. I dedicate it to her with love and gratitude. . and Richard Sorabji for their help with and thoughts on particular issues. Leuven to partake in the meetings of the team of “Plato Transformed”. Cristina D’Ancona. U. Dublin in 2001. Ineke Sluiter. I am most grateful to Francesco Ademollo. in particular with John Dillon and Vasilis Politis.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This book is the outcome of a research project entitled “The Reception of Plato’s Cratylus in Antiquity: Ancient Theories of Language and Naming”. Furthermore.


if you had not come. Plato. Plato and Platonism. I would have locked up”. chapter one deals with the Cratylus itself and compares it to Aristotle’s account of language. Much has been said 1 Cf. of course. It consists of an excerpt of a student’s notes of Proclus’ discussion of the Cratylus. The fragmentary state of the Commentary is. This study aims at making up for this neglect by reconstructing the outlines of Proclus’ discussion of the Cratylus. This book will not be just about Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus. This tradition shapes Proclus’ philosophy both positively. Yet. its theme is of unparalleled philosophical importance: language.INTRODUCTION Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus is a unique work. Marinus Proclus § 10. as well as the Hellenistic schools. one need not be a seer to understand the signiÀcance of this omen. the Commentary has barely proÀted from the recent increase of interest in late ancient philosophy. in the sense that he reacts against it. but will discuss it within the wider context of philosophical reÁections on language in Antiquity in general and the history of the reception of the Cratylus in particular. Likewise Proclus’ Commentary constitutes a Neoplatonist’s reÁection on the relation between language and Neoplatonic philosophy. He arrived just in time. Marinus reports that when a young Proclus arrived in Athens for the Àrst time. in the sense that he borrows from it.1 As Marinus comments. the home of Athena. Proclus indeed comes at the end of a long and diverse philosophical tradition that includes. he set out to visit the Acropolis. To start with the beginning. no doubt. Therefore. the patron goddess of philosophy. for as the guard at the gate told him. . It is the only known and only preserved ancient commentary on that dialogue. despite of its uniqueness and importance. signed for by one of the most eminent ancient commentators on Plato. 37–44. but also Aristotle and the Peripatetics. and negatively. to a large extent to blame for this neglect. Moreover. this study will not treat Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus in isolation. of course. philosophy cannot do without language. For better or for worse. “Truly. realized this and the Cratylus is his reÁection on the relation between language and Platonic philosophy.

does it mean for a name to be incorrect? From the dialogue it appears that names do not simply mirror reality. However.e. and I do not intend to go through all these publications in detail. it appears that the Àrst name-givers were Heracleitians who tried to understand reality by studying the ever-changing sensible world. a puriÀed and improved version of ordinary language that Àts the 2 Not just personal names. Plato assumes that the etymology of names reveals something of these deÀnitions. I shall highlight a. From the copious amount of etymologies that make up a substantial part of the Cratylus. Hermogenes. Instead. Therefore. This process of division is also a process of deÀnition: we separate one group of things from the rest by identifying their characteristic quality that sets them apart from all other things and that thus deÀnes them.xiv introduction about this dialogue in recent years. . the Greek language as it stands is likely to be Áawed. incorrect deÀnitions. It is within this perspective that we should understand the central issue of the Cratylus. is quite understandably puzzled by the claim that names can actually be incorrect. through etymology. our nouns. but it is in philosophical discussions in which we try to determine the deÀnitions of the things themselves. the names of things. if we wish to divide reality correctly.e. after all. we should. i. aspect of the Cratylus that tends to be overlooked. study the Platonic Forms in the intelligible realm. but rather reÁect the interpretation of reality by the name-giver. By giving names to groups of things. in the Platonic way. but a reÁection on relation between elementary building blocks of language. one of the three characters in the dialogue. i. are names given by name-givers who had an erroneous understanding of reality. and Platonic philosophy. to my mind central. then. not primarily a dialogue about the philosophy of language—which as such did not exist in Antiquity—or about linμ (‘names’). This may not be much of a problem in everyday life in which ordinary Greek seems to function sufÀciently well. according to Plato.e. There. the Forms. the name-giver divides up the world. where things are truly what they are and hence are true objects of scientiÀc inquiry. but also. I shall suggest. Incorrect names.2 the guistics. ordinary language may lead us astray both by suggesting incorrect divisions and. and more especially. the Platonic philosopher needs his own language. i. that of the (in)correctness of names. What. Since the name-givers that designed Greek language did not study reality correctly. The Cratylus is.

Given Plato’s explicit warnings not to use etymology as a method of philosophical investigation. However. Stoics and Platonists became convinced that these people had enjoyed a superior understanding of reality in comparison to contemporary philosophers. he does not mistrust ordinary language. He clearly understood that the Aristotelian view of language was ill at ease with Platonic metaphysics. Porphyry had adopted this Aristotelian theory in order to be able to save Aristotle’s Categories for Neoplatonism. like many Platonists before him. takes an altogether different line. did not feel the need to accommodate Aristotle. Through etymology one could. subscribed to an Aristotelian semantic theory. Proclus may have gotten Plato’s ideas about etymology completely wrong. They increasingly conceived of philosophy as a project to retrieve this ancient wisdom. discover the deÀnitions of things as developed by the sages of old. assumes that the etymologies from the Cratylus provide reliable information about the nature of things. so it was believed. it has no place for another type of language based on intelligible reality. though. Since the Aristotelian theory only recognizes one type of language. following in the footsteps of Porphyry. he was one of the very few readers of the Cratylus in Antiquity who understood that the dialogue presents us with a typical Platonic theory of language that had been designed to suit Platonic metaphysics. he discovers in ordinary language useful starting points for further philosophical investigations. Porphyry and his followers decided to bite the bullet in order to keep Aristotle on board. by contrast. it comes as a surprise to Ànd that Proclus. Since he rejects the Platonic intelligible world. Moreover. Any discussion of metaphysical entities will thus have to be conducted in this ordinary language and by implication be metaphorical. In fact. this adoption of Aristotele came with a price. In chapter three we shall see that the vast majority of Neoplatonists.introduction xv intelligible realm. Aristotle. One instrument to recover it was etymology. and since he is conÀdent that sense perception produces reliable concepts of the things in the sensible world. In his Commentary on the Parmenides he explains in some detail what is wrong with Porphyry’s account of language from a Platonic point of . Chapter two traces the origin of this remarkable error back to the Middle Platonists and the Stoics. the analysis of ordinary language and of names in particular is not to be recommended as a method of philosophical investigation. Proclus. Whereas Plato had thought little of the philosophical qualities of primitive mankind. ordinary language based on our sense perception of the sensible universe.

Every human soul is by its very nature capable of it. so it seems. Thus. On this reading the Cratylus does not just teach us something about Plato’s views about language. At the same time. Given the problematic nature the Commentary and the fact that it has been little studied. Proclus assumes that driving home this point is the ultimate aim of the Cratylus. both his theory of language and his philosophical methods are unsatisfactory. I have not myself undertaken an integral translation of the text. Proclus’ sustained attacks on Aristotle in the Commentary on the Cratylus. We are able to engage in divine activities. . In chapter Àve. Duvick is due to appear in the series Ancient Commentaries on Aristotle edited by R. he is especially interested in Plato’s 3 Since an English translation by B. unchanging things. Since Proclus perceives of Platonic philosophy Àrst and foremost as a sort of theology. to comment on the Cratylus. the same knowledge that makes Platonic philosophy possible. Proclus uses these discussions to criticize Aristotle. I shall examine Proclus’ interpretation of the issue of the correctness of names. Since Aristotle denies the existence of the intelligible Forms. we shall see how Proclus relates human philosophizing and naming to similar activities of the divine Intellect. I have chosen to combine a thematic treatment of the Commentary with a detailed discussion of large sections of the text. Proclus does not make this type of knowledge the privilege of early mankind. provided that we turn our attention away from the sensible particulars to the eternal universals. should be understood against the background of his campaign to replace the Aristotelian account of language with a truly Platonic one. Chapters four up to six analyze the Commentary on the Cratylus itself. Sorabji (= Duvick 2007).3 In chapter four. too. our capacity to have knowledge of this sort is something that we share with the gods. Proclus argues that there exists a natural correctness of names in the case of things that can be known scientiÀcally and a conventional correctness in the case of things that cannot thus be known. His dissatisfaction with the dominant Porphyrian semantic theory was one reason. including the intelligible Forms and the gods. The former consists of eternal. In fact. Chapter six deals with Proclus’ treatment of the etymologies in the Cratylus. the latter of individuals. the fact that we humans are capable of giving natural correct names demonstrates that we are capable of knowledge of metaphysical beings. Moreover.xvi introduction view. it also teaches us something of importance about ourselves. the dialogue that provides a typically Platonic view of language.

Proclus’ claim that the Aristotelian-Porphyrian semantic theory was essentially unPlatonic forced those later Neoplatonists who maintained that Plato and Aristotle were essentially in harmony. The after-life of Proclus’ interpretation of the Cratylus is the topic of the Ànal chapter. to argue for the compatibility of Plato’s views from the Cratylus with those of Aristotle. This holds true both generally speaking and in regard to their theories of language. the speciÀc function of these names within the context of Proclus’ larger philosophical enterprise. and studies some of Proclus’ discussions of etymologies from the Cratylus. Proclus’ inÁuence on the very last of the ancient philosophers should not be underestimated. the construction of a Platonic theology. forgetting about the Cratylus and Proclus’ Commentary on it altogether. The Middle Ages would adopt the Aristotelian semantic theory. At the same time. until. the philosophical schools in Athens and Alexandria were swept away by the waves of history. the theological lessons that Proclus had derived from the etymologies of the divine names continued to be taken seriously.introduction xvii explanations of divine names. Ànally. . The chapter thus discusses Proclus’ views on the nature of divine names.


In most of these studies the Cratylus is presented either as a work about the philosophy of language. on the contrast. taking their clue from the fact that Socrates presents names as the instruments of a dialectician. the dialogue has received its fair share of attention in recent years. within the context of the present study. a category which as such did not yet exist in Antiquity. There is no reason to assume that these are in principle any better than modern approaches. such a discussion will provide a useful foil for the study of the ancient interpretations. Once relatively neglected.1 Only few publications discuss the Cratylus as primarily a dialogue concerning Platonic dialectic. Plato in the Cratylus explicitly warns against using etymology in philosophy. such an approach will appear to contribute to a better understanding of the dialogue. That is not to say that I adopt the ancient interpretations of the Cratylus. Introduction A study into the reception of the Cratylus in Antiquity has almost inevitably got to start with a discussion of the Cratylus itself. as we shall see in the next chapter. Below I shall explore a reading of the Cratylus from this dialectical perspective. especially because of the many etymologies. 1 . under the inÁuence of the Stoa As Dalimier 1998: 14 aptly puts it: “il y a le Cratyle des philosophes et le Cratyle des philologues”. Yet. nor do I advice that we adopt uncritically ancient readings of Plato in general. Most ancient interpreters. since they tend to be determined by all kinds of assumptions about Plato and his work that we may Ànd impossible to share. or about linguistics. The appreciation of the etymologies from the Cratylus as a source of knowledge among later Platonists is a case in point. as regards the interpretation of the Cratylus itself.CHAPTER ONE PLATO’S CRATYLUS AND ARISTOTLE’S DE INTERPRETATIONE: SETTING THE SCENE 1. On the one hand. assume that the Cratylus deals with the dialectical function of names. On the other hand.

Before Socrates arrived at the scene. it is impossible to tell the story of the reception of the Cratylus in Antiquity without reference to De Interpretatione.1 The discussion with Hermogenes: the natural correctness of names (Crat. Socrates Àrst makes Hermogenes elaborate on his position that “no name belongs to a particular thing by nature. but only . There is good reason for this. On the one hand. Cratylus—a Heracleitian who according to Aristotle was one of Plato’s teachers—had claimed the former. whose eagerness for learning excels his philosophical skills by far. There are two reasons for doing so. The Cratylus begins with the successful attempt by Hermogenes. The Àrst consists in a discussion of Socrates with Hermogenes. be it perhaps unconsciously. The last section undermines the belief so dear to almost the entire later tradition that names are trustworthy sources of information about the nature of things so that they may have felt inclined to omit it. On the other hand. Hermogenes now asks Socrates to shed some light on the matter. according to this natural correctness ‘Hermogenes’ is not Hermogenes’ name. yet had refused to explain to Hermogenes his reasons for holding this view while teasing him by adding that. the second in a lengthy series of etymologies offered by Socrates. The second part of this chapter will focus on Aristotle’s view on language as we Ànd it in De Interpretatione. If so. they constitute the Àrst phase in the reception of the Cratylus.e. whether they have a natural correctness or that their ( μ correctness depends on convention only. 383a–391b3) The Cratylus is usually divided into three parts.2 chapter one later Platonists had taken a different attitude towards etymology and thus failed to notice this obvious warning. The Cratylus: an outline 2. 2. whereas the third consists in an exchange between Socrates and Cratylus. i. ancient discussions center especially on the Àrst two. to involve Socrates into a discussion about the correctness of “names” ). Of these three sections. The two are often compared to each other and at the end of this chapter I shall undertake such a comparison myself in order to bring out the tension between the two accounts. the remarks about language at the beginning of De Interpretatione are often interpreted as Aristotle’s reaction against the Cratylus.

one cannot. since it will result in a Babel-like confusion and thus make communication in general and philosophy in particular impossible (see. In support of his argument he points to the fact that we can easily rename our slaves (Crat. e. try to prune a vine with a table knife. Hence. especially because Plato nowhere gives us a clue that he intends this passage to be such an argument. as Hermogenes had assumed earlier on. do as one wishes. but it is not likely that this is going to be a success.plato and aristotle 3 because of the rules and usage of those who establish the usage and call it by that name” (Crat.. However. . All translations of the Cratylus have been taken from Reeve 1998. Many modern commentators.2 μ μ (Crat. One may. Likewise. 1.g. Socrates now concludes: T.3 Consequently. 1. Hermogenes has also to admit that because of this we should not do as we like when we set out to do something. This is an important sentence. e. Is an explicative? To judge by the examples of dividing being or is the other instruments to which Socrates ascribes only one function. as has been observed by at least one modern commentator (Barney 1997: 15). 385a in particular.2 Socrates Àrst makes Hermogenes reject the views hold by Protagoras and Euthydemus. Sluiter 1997: 183–184). According to them. Since Hermogenes does not demand this at all. 386d9–e1. not to refute it.e. 384d5).1 it is clear that things have some stable essence of their own ( μ ). They point to Crat. 385d7–e3). 3 Crat. 384d5–7). where Hermogenes agrees with Socrates that on his account one may personally use the name ‘horse’ for what is commonly referred to as ‘man’ and vice versa. though. the latter 2 I take it that this passage is only intended to outline Hermogenes’ position. but that we should take the nature of things into consideration if we want to be successful in our operations. it is difÀcult to see how this passage can be an argument against Hermogenes.. From this it is concluded that T. Hermogenes’ admission implicitly undermines his position.g. and teaching and biguous. yet its meaning is not entirely unamμ a tool for two purposes. Baxter 1992: 21. there exists a natural correct way of naming things. 388b13–c1). since naming is an action concerning things with a Àxed nature of their own. i. as well as the fact that there exists a broad variety of languages in which the same things bear different names (Crat. these interpreters “tend to talk as though Hermogenes demanded that everyone adopt constantly changing private naming conventions”. assume that it contains an argument against Hermogenes.

this does not undermine his thesis of natural correctness. seems the more likely one. about whom more below. Socrates now makes another.e. Crat. that the function of names is to communicate our thoughts to each other. In the case of the name-giver. . In the same way. Greek and barbarians ones. one μ ) may be and the same idea of what a name is ( embodied in various sounds. yet embody it in different pieces of iron. Socrates claims. it is argued that this person should supervise the activity of the craftsman who fabricates the instrument. it appears that he means that names should divide up things μ μ ). 390b1–391b3. after all.5 Different languages indeed consist of different sets of sounds. but. If one comes to think about it. see Sedley 2003: 60–61. that is to say for dividing being. somewhat unexpected claim by introducing out of the blue the person of the dialectician. far more natural to assume with Aristotle. 6 Cf. i. For the view that names have actually a twofold function. adopted by most modern scholars. But what does Socrates mean by “dividing up being”? From Crat. He compares this to various blacksmiths. is a good name. a name is a tool for giving instruction. Guthrie 1978: 19. regardless of how it sounds. the fact that different peoples speak different languages. Any name that does what a name should do. just as a shuttle is a tool for dividing warp and woof. it is the job of a very rare sort of craftsman (Crat.. teaching by diving up being in a natural manner. On the assumption that the one who knows best what an instrument should look like is the one who uses it.4 We should thus read: So. i. 388b10f. Crat. be successfully practiced by just anybody. 389a5–390a10. see. therefore. a sort of rule-setter ( μ ) who provides us with the names to use. Socrates’ claim that dividing being is the task of names is an odd one. Socrates addresses Hermogenes’ argument for the conventionalist position. 389a2f. the one “who knows how to ask and answer questions. who all share the same idea of what a good drill is like. 5 Cf. this is the dialectician. Coining “according to their natures” ( words apparently requires an understanding of the natural division of things and cannot. It is. Next.: μ ). Instead.4 chapter one interpretation. e.”6 It should be born in mind that although Hermogenes is 4 For scholars advocating this interpretation.e.g.

Moreover. 391b4–427d3) Once Socrates has established that there exists something like the natural correctness of names. he is by no means a skilled Platonic philosopher. Socrates takes advantage of the fact that he is in the grip of some divine wisdom—something for which he blames Euthyphro. the religious fanatic who is also known from the Platonic dialogue called after him—and continues by discussing a wide variety of names of deities. so one would expect him to be a little more puzzled about the introduction of this dialectician than in fact he is. but also including those of the heavenly bodies and related entities such as the elements. he goes on to investigate what this correctness entails. literally ‘Lord Socrates from of the City’. Atreus. derived by . was a son of Zeus. ‘to hold’. Socrates now continues by analyzing the names of various mythological heroes as they appear in Homer and elsewhere. that Socrates does not practice etymology in the ancient sense of the word.2 The etymological section (Crat. He does so by analyzing an enormous collection of names from which it appears that they are informative about the opinions of the name-givers concerning the objects that they named. 2. Cronus and Uranus. 396c3–6). This section is hence known as the “etymological section”. Next follows a whole new series of etymologies of names in the Àeld of ethics. and ‘Astyanax’. regardless the sounds used to express this. those to do with emotive states. Socrates regrets it that he is unable to remember “Hesiod’s genealogy.7 From an analysis of names in Homer it turns out that in the case of a correct name “the being of the thing is in control and is expressed in the name”. the object of dialectical discourse. Crat. are hinted at only at the very end of the dialogue. the Platonic Forms. of the seasons.plato and aristotle 5 acquainted with Socrates and an amateur of philosophy. and the year. as well as of the “Ànest and most important names”. which appear to be names of philosophical entities such as 7 Note. since they both indicate that Hector and his son are members of the ruling class. . the names ‘Hector’. however. 393d4–5. are two different names that are both equally suited for kings.8 Thus. Socrates gets to discuss the names of the gods Zeus. ‘to have’. with judgement. and even the earlier ancestors of the gods he mentions” (Crat. 34–35. From the fact that one of these. partly those known from the Homeric pantheon. All the same. 8 Cf. see pp.

Greeks still know what it means because of convention. but on the nature of the things themselves. . and that we have to make use of that worthless thing. 430a5–7). convention.3 The discussion with Cratylus: the importance of conventionalism (Crat. ‘being’. as Hermogenes suggested. Socrates tries to convince Cratylus that this is not the case. I think that the people who gave things their names in very ancient times are exactly like these wise men. 1. contains Yet even though the Greek word for hardness. 427d4–440e7) Cratylus could not have agreed more with Socrates: this is exactly how he sees it! Yet. 411b3–6). I say this because the names you just mentioned put me in mind of it (Crat. The ‘l’-sound.6 chapter one ‘truth’. but Áowing and moving. that the things themselves appear to them to be turning around and moving every which way. 435c3–6) . They don’t blame this on their own internal condition. and ‘name’. If it is not. Soon it turns out that their views do not entirely square. Well. just noise as if someone “were banging a brass pot” (Crat. as follows: T. in the correctness of names (Crat. 1. full of every sort of motion and constant coming into being. which I take to be that of Plato. Among other things. however. 2.3 Most of our wise men nowadays get so dizzy going around and around in their search for the nature of the things that are. but I fear that defending this view is like hauling a ship up a sticky ramp. he argues that names themselves consist of a sort of elementary names. A name is a perfect likeness of its object. imitates softness. in a crucial passage to which we shall come back below: T. Socrates describes his position.4 I myself prefer the views that names should be as much like things as possible. this ‘l’-sound. From this Socrates concludes that convention contributes something to the process of communication. for example. yet Cratylus denies that names allow for degrees of likeness. These are sounds that imitate certain qualities. it is no name at all. since he does not altogether trust the inspiration that triggered the analyses of names in the previous section. Socrates urges Cratylus to subject the outcome of the discussion so far to closer scrutiny. Both agree that correctly given names are imitations of their objects. which they think are never stable or steadfast. Socrates explicitly points this out to Hermogenes at the start of the series. What is especially remarkable about this second batch of names is that they all testify of a Heracleitian world-view according to which everything is always moving. ‘falsehood’.

Socrates rings the alarm bell: suppose that the Àrst name-givers were mistaken about the things that they named. 412c7ff. Thus. Isn’t that right?” Cratylus: “Yes.g. see. Apparently. but now in such a way that they indicate that all things are at rest. that everything is constantly moving and changing. 407e1–408d5). In line with the foregoing discussion with Hermogenes. 1.6 How to learn and make discoveries about the things that are is probably too large a topic for you or me. yet he adds something else: according to him. and this seems to be a more reliable path to knowledge than etymology:9 T. Cratylus responds that the function of a name is to give instruction.” Socrates: “And if his conception was incorrect and he gave names based on it. this is an important indication that the things have been named correctly! Socrates now undertakes a last round of analyzing names.): it is easy (Crat. 435d4–6). there are ways to get to know the things through themselves. 436b5–11) Cratylus. the simple truth is that to know a thing’s name is to know the thing itself (Crat. but quizzes him about the function of names. Hence Cratylus’ argument has been refuted. if indeed their names are an expression of their knowledge needed to have acquired this knowledge before there were names. 1.. Hence they acquired this knowledge without the help of names. i. But we should be content to 9 Note that Plato has been sowing clues all along the way. then. In that case we shall be misled by their names: T. Surely.e.plato and aristotle 7 Socrates does not force Cratylus to express agreement with him.5 Socrates: “It is clear that the Àrst name-giver gave names to things based on his conception of what those things were like. points to the fact that all the names that Socrates has previously discussed are based on the same assumption. also his observation about but what it really means is difÀcult to discover. what do you suppose will happen to us if we take him as our guide? Won’t we be deceived?” (Crat. etymologizing afresh some of the names that he had just discussed. names are instruments of discovery: to discover the name of a thing is to discover what that thing is itself. to etymologize the name . e. his discussions of the names of Hermes and Pan in which he underlines the deceptive side of language (Crat. still refusing to let go of his refuted position that names that are in any way deÀcient are not names at all. Cf. Socrates furthermore points out that the name-givers.

thus drawing the meeting to a close. They require an explanation that will be provided only in a later text. Not withstanding the suggestion to the contrary just mentioned (Crat. Towards a dialectical interpretation of the Cratylus 3. On this account. 439b4–8). is the dialectician. Socrates now calls the Áux doctrine of the Àrst name-givers and Cratylus into question. Kahn 1996: 61. to beauty itself which forever remains the same. Cf. and the Statesman As was noted in the introduction. He begins by opposing beautiful faces and the like which indeed seem to be in a state of Áux. At this point. . in that they must strike the reader as enigmatic in their context.”11 Kahn makes this remark in his groundbreaking book on Plato and the Socratic dialogue in which he puts forward the thesis that many of Cf. there have to be unchanging objects of knowledge such as beauty itself as well. A surprising assertion. If everything is in a process of change it will ) about be impossible to say correctly (Crat. ‘the man who can ask and answer questions’ (390c10). the ancient interpretations of the Cratylus made much of Socrates’ claim that names are primarily the instruments of the dialectician. There is something very odd about the sudden appearance of the dialectician in the dialogue. however. if there is to be unchanging knowledge. Crat.8 chapter one have agreed that it is far better to investigate them and learn about them through themselves than to do so through their names (Crat. 439c3–4. the Sophist. also Ackrill 1994: 21: “For now the person said to be expert in using names . However. This passage clearly hints at the Platonic Forms.10 The Àrst name-givers indeed assumed that everything is in a state of constant Áux. 439d8: ) anything that it is such as it is. Socrates bids farewell to Cratylus and Hermogenes. and it is necessary to draw upon other dialogues to interpret it. Charles Kahn aptly observes about the way in which the dialectician is introduced in the Cratylus and the Euthydemus: “These two passages are truly proleptic. 3. even knowledge ( would be subjected to change and hence would change into something other than knowledge. . Socrates appears to assume that those etymologies that suggest that everything is constantly changing are the correct ones.” 11 10 . 437a–c).1 An ingressive interpretation of the discussion with Hermogenes: the Cratylus.

p. pp. However. His suggestion is corroborated by the fact that the Cratylus also contains two version of the same section (437d10–438a2 and 438a3–b4). He remarks. on the contrary. my point will be that the Cratylus constitutes a meditation on the function of language in Platonic dialectic. into two and again and again until one has completely isolated the thing under discussion and thus established what it is.c. before setting out on the hunt for the sophist. He calls his approach to earlier works from the perspective of later ones an ‘ingressive interpretation’ of Plato.e. The Sophist deals. on the dialectician in the Cratylus cf. Yet.e. As already SchoÀeld 1972 has pointed out. If one reads through the Sophist and the Statesman. In Crat. Sedley 2003: 10–13 argues that Plato removed this section when he reworked the Cratylus. 306–307. there is a third dialogue that should be added to this group. though not necessarily. By way of illustration. In the Sophist. it is argued that truth and falsity belong to a an argument against an ingressive interpretation of the Cratylus? One may well argue that. that they are designed to prepare the reader for the views expounded in the later dialogues. 385b2–d1 it is argued that since a μ since it is a minimal component of the former. also o. as appears from the fact that the latter is presented as a sequel to the former. by dividing up reality mostly. precisely since he wanted the Cratylus to Àt with the Sophist. this passage actually lends support to such an interpretation. on the other an . to contribute to our understanding of it. About the Cratylus he has not much more to say since it falls outside the set of related dialogues that he has singled out for discussion in his book. that the Cratylus lies on a path leading to such dialogues as the Theaetetus and the Sophist. Put brieÁy. Is this hand. against the suggestion by SchoÀeld. with attempts to deÀne the sophist by means of dialectical division: i.plato and aristotle 9 the earlier works lead up towards the later dialogues. which itself is a sequel to the Sophist. . 13 It may be pointed out that the Cratylus contains a passage that sits ill with the can be true or false. 366. this passage cannot be transposed to any other part of the text.12 Plato clearly wishes us to read the Theaetetus and the Sophist in connection. the Statesman. another indication of a revision of the text. Theaetetus and the Eleatic Stranger Àrst test drive their method by trying to deÀne 12 See Kahn 1996: 363–366 esp. one soon Ànds that the upshot of the discussion in the Cratylus is applied to the dialectical exercises in both dialogues. naturally. to my view. i. before the dialectical method itself is presented in the Sophist and the Statesman. this passage does not belong where it now occurs.13 Reading the Cratylus from the perspective of these two dialogues seems indeed. so can Sophist. but not to its parts. I shall now brieÁy discuss some relevant passages from those two dialogues. though. As the editors of the OCT note.

When we relate this discussion to the Cratylus. he also looks for appropriate names to label the two groups that he distinguishes. Sometimes existing Greek vocabulary will provide him with a Àtting name. e. It is once again divided into two: on the one hand there something which “we shall call enclosure-hunting or something like that”. The statesman belongs to those people 14 15 Sophist. The angler is an expert as opposed to a non-expert.”14 The hunting of living things is next divided into land-hunting “which is divided into many μ μ ). the close link between dialectical division and naming is evident. in other cases he has to make up names himself. In some cases one strikes from above (in the case of spearing Àsh) in other cases from below. When we next turn to the Statesman we Ànd a young namesake of Socrates and the stranger from Elea trying to deÀne the statesman by means of dialectical division. Whenever the Eleatic stranger makes a division. Fishing comes under the latter heading. The Eleatic Stranger continues: T. Hunting can be divided in the hunting of lifeless things and of living things. Soph. 1. correctly established names bring out what is essential about a thing by means of resemblance. From a further division of the activity of producing it appears that one form of producing is hunting. Strikehunting practiced by day. On the other hand there is something “which we should call by one word. it’s angling ( is what we are searching for (Soph. μ . as he does. and types with many names” ( aquatic hunting. “is called hooking”. Experts can be divided in those who produce things and those who imitate things. except for some kinds remarks: “it doesn’t have a name ( of diving and other trivial things like that.7. in the case of ‘enclosure-hunting’. that is. 218d8–221c5). About the former type of hunting Socrates μ ). the prey is drawn upward from underneath.7 And the part of hooking that involves a blow drawing a thing upward from underneath ( μ ) is called by a name that’s derived by its similarity to the action itself ( )—which μ μ ).10 chapter one the angler (Soph.15 Furthermore. 220a1–3. In these latter cases. 220c7–8: μ μ . The angler is a producer..g. 221b7–c3). strike-hunting”. as opposed to at night. as appears from T. the translations of the Sophist are by White 1997. 1.

whom Socrates brieÁy mentions in Crat.e. In this process of division.16 This passage recalls once again the lessons from the Cratylus. young Socrates and the Eleatic Stranger have discovered a certain class of beings.8 Eleatic Stranger: “Well then: when it comes to rearing living creatures. teaching by diving up being in a natural manner. Dividing things up according to their nature. is a good name. and if you persevere in not paying serious attention to names. Socrates could not care less which one of the two they will use. in examining things. rather focus on the things themselves than on their names. 261e1–262a2). These both contain a description of what is characteristic of this group and hence both meet the requirements of a correctly established name. 384b3. Socrates. 17 16 . In order to distinguish this class from other classes of things.” (Pol. recalls the end of the Cratylus according to which we should. It then appears that the statesman directs animated beings rather than unanimated ones. in the course of the argument. Young Socrates continues by distinguishing the animated beings that live in herds into human beings and other Translations of the Statesman are after Rowe 1997.” Young Socrates: “Whichever turns out to Àt. Therefore. so that it is concluded—not quite correctly as will turn out later—. are we to name ( μ μ ) the shared rearing of many creatures together a sort of ‘herd-rearing’ ( ) or ‘collective rearing’ ( ).plato and aristotle 11 who possess knowledge as opposed to those who do not. i. This illustration of correctly established names is followed by that of an incorrect name. especially groups or herds of them rather than individuals. that the politician is some kind of herdsman. 1. Ànally. the need to coin names by which to call various classes that have been distinguished makes itself felt for example in the case of the rearing of animated beings in herds: T. The advice to disregard names if one wishes to become wise.17 This recalls the passage from the Cratylus according to which any name that does what a name should do. you will be seen to be richer in wisdom as you advance to old age. regardless how it sounds. two names are suggested. Theoretical knowledge can be divided into theoretical knowledge that makes judgements and theoretical knowledge that directs. This knowledge is theoretical instead of practical.” Eleatic Stranger: “Well said. As opposed to sophists like Prodicus. as does of course the political knowledge.

1. T. the understanding of the correctness of names is clearly an issue of importance in the art of dialectic. 275e4–9. “we did not at all succeed in grasping the statesman along with the rest or name him for he eluded us in μ our naming. 262c10–d6). A future dialectician. and we did not notice ( μ )”. 1. which do not mix with one another. Young Socrates agrees “if indeed there is such a name”. and to all the other races together. as applying to them all”.12 chapter one animals. which at that stage may be “too large a topic” for him. they “could have covered the statesman too as well as the rest. or ‘caring for’. is that in this case ordinary language does not divide the world in a way that corresponds to the nature of things: there is nothing that connects the class of barbarians apart from the fact that they do not speak Greek. later on in the dialogue it appears that names like “herdrearing”. He explains himself as follows: T. given that this was the requirement our argument indicated. or any other sort of activity”. Interestingly. The Eleatic Stranger points out to him that he is jumping to conclusions. they expect it to be a single family or class too” (Polit.9 Eleatic Stranger: “It is as if someone tried to divide the human race into two and made the cut in the way that most people carve things up. and do not share the same language—calling this collection by the single appellation ‘barbarian’ ( μ ). without any speciÀcation of it as ‘rearing’. even before he is taught “how to learn and make discoveries about the things”. . so if we wish to take the statesman and the other herdsmen together into one class “we should have applied to all of them one of the names that belong in common to them”.19 The Eleatic Stranger’s point is that whereas other herdsmen may indeed rear their herds. “By calling it some kind of expertise in ‘herd-keeping’ or ‘looking-after’.21 should realize that 18 Cf. clearly. the statesman does not.6 above. no matter how careful they were established are wrong after all. separate from all the rest.”20 So. 20 Polit. Kretzmann 1971: 132 who calls attention to the fact that Plato applies his principles of correct naming from the Cratylus in other dialogues as well. which are unlimited in number. Because of this single appellation. 275d4–6. taking the Greek race away as one.18 What is wrong. 19 Polit. 21 Cf. As the Eleatic Stranger says. for that is “common to them all. The Eleatic Stranger suggests to call it “looking after”.

24 Baxter 1992: 2. In such a context. Whereas the Àrst and last parts contain enough argumentation to arouse the interest of a philosophical reader. Rather. produces one wild etymology after another without much of an argument to it. S. M. they disagree about what to make from it. was exactly what piqued the curiosity of a younger one. for it may fail to distinguish reality at its joints. Hesiod. who. he has philosophical potential. He assumes that we should read the etymological section as a parody that attacks a strong tendency in Greek thought to overvalue words.24 Even though recent students of the dialogue agree that no interpretation of the Cratylus is complete without a discussion of the etymological section. that Plato is speculating about a complete ideal language that covers all things as a goal in itself. If the need arises the dialectician will have to do the job himself.. e. As T.2 The etymological section reconsidered: etymology and dialectic A previous generation of scholars tended to sidestep this part of the dialogue. the Cratylus explains how a dialectician in action should use language. pace Baxter 1992: 31–85. 23 See.plato and aristotle 13 he cannot trust ordinary language. they are divided over the question whether the etymologies are a kind of joke or not. the etymological section that seems to go on forever shows us a Socrates. 12–4. 25 See especially Baxter 1992: 107–163 (“Etymologies and Etymologists”).23 3. the formation of new words happens in a piecemeal fashion.g. First. what was offensive to an older generation. Proclus In Crat.25 Among these are people who practice allegorical exegesis of ancient religious texts such as Homer.22 In this respect. XXXII p. and the author of the famous Derveni-papyrus who are targeted at the beginning of the etymological section. . there were people around at the time who tried to bring these ancient venerated texts 22 I do not believe. Apparently. 11. Yet. in the grip of some kind of divine inspiration. He explains the length of the section from the fact that there was so much to parody and does a very useful job in identifying various individuals and groups at which Plato takes aim. Baxter 1992: 17–18. Baxter put it in his study of the Cratylus that inaugurated an upsurge of interest in this part of the dialogue: “to do the Cratylus justice one must do the etymologies justice”. Baxter is of the former view. it could be added that Hermogenes makes a good candidate dialectician. even though at the time of the dialogue he lacks the philosophical skills required. for as Proclus and modern commentators point out.

Barney 2001: 70.29 Sedley agrees with Barney about the high quality of the etymologies. the issue now is whether Baxter is right that the etymologies from the Cratylus are mere parodies. In these allegories etymology played an important role. Grote vol. Barney 2001: 60–73 of which Barney 1998 is an earlier version. One just has to think of his attack as a way to save the blasphemous tales from Homer and on Hesiod in Republic II or of his remark at the beginning of the Phaedrus that he is happy to leave the task of interpretation such stories to others. He distinguishes between two types of correctness of etymologies. Baxter is certainly right in assuming that the Cratylus contains an attack on people like the author of the Derveni-papyrus and below we shall come back to this aspect of the Cratylus.26 To my mind. that later ancient writers cite the etymologies with respect and attribute them to Plato himself. The length of the passage is explained from this agonistic nature: Plato’s mastery of the naming game appears not just from the ingenuity of his etymologies but also from the enormous bulk of them which he manages to produce. She ingeniously argues that Plato. See pp. Àrst shows himself to be a competent etymologist. for there is no end to it. in order to criticize the etymological method more effectively later on. .27 However. at least according to ancient standards. Yet—as Socrates himself points out—it is by no means certain that the beliefs of these name-givers were correct. As is well known.28 Barney goes on to argue that the etymologies in the Cratylus are actually quite clever ones. cf. 178–179. Sedley calls this the exegetical correctness of etymologies and argues that the etymologies of the Cratylus are supposed to be correct in this way. whereas he lacks the time to do so. II: 516–529. Grote. Sedley 2003: 39–40. Plato R. Recently. 229c6–230a7. Plato shows himself very hostile towards allegory. Barney and D. R. 378b8–e4. yet he holds a rather subtle view about Plato’s appreciation of the etymological method.14 chapter one into line with the new developments in philosophy. already observed by G. so the philosophical correctness of the etymologies is an altogether 26 27 28 29 Cf. Socrates in the Cratylus assumes that successful etymology reveals the beliefs of the Àrst name-givers. Sedley have rejected this interpretation of the etymological section by calling attention to the fact. Phdr. discussed by Baxter 1992: 117–119.

T. for this study of the harmonious movements of the heavens brings harmony to the human soul that was unsettled because of its fall into the realm of becoming.32 However. This explains why they fared much better in naming eternal things that are by their very nature stable.30 As we have seen. We can only divide up reality in a natural way if things have separate natures of their own. for Socrates’ thesis that the ancient name-givers need not necessarily have understood the nature of things correctly. Sedley 2003: 91). Correct naming takes after all a dialectician to supervise it. Hence it becomes impossible to divide up things in a natural way.e. The implicit suggestion in the Cratylus that ancient man did not do dialectic Ànds a fuller expression in the Sophist and the Statesman. In a world of Heracleitian Áux. This etymology anticipates passages in the Platonic corpus (e. even though they fell short in their understanding of other aspects of reality. in the Republic and Timaeus) which celebrate astronomy as a privileged route to the perfection of one’s intellect (cf.5. . there seems to be a clear cut in the etymological section: Socrates explicitly warns his public that the second set of etymologies will be philosophical incorrect due to the condition of the Àrst name-givers (see T. everything is Áuid.3 they got dizzy going around and around in their search for the nature of the things to the result that they assumed that everything is in Áux and nothing is stable.3 above). both the father of Cronus and the Heaven) produces purity of intellect. whereas the Àrst set of etymologies that includes the exegesis of divine names appears to contain much that is in line with Plato’s own philosophy. 396b–c where Socrates explains the name of Cronus from the fact that he has a pure (koros) intellect (nous) since the contemplation of Uranus (i. 1.3 and T. 1. as the meteorologoi claim. According to T. In the myth of the Statesman the Eleatic stranger expresses his doubts whether 30 See Sedley 2003: 28–30.g. 1. For in his discussion with Hermogenes. 1. the assumption that according to these ancient name-givers everything is constantly changing also implies that they were not dialecticians.plato and aristotle 15 different matter. This assumption is a necessary condition for dialectic.1). This in turn implies that the names in ordinary language are bound to be incorrect. 1. According to Sedley the latter demonstrate that Plato credited his distant forerunners with an impressive grasp of the divine. 32 Particularly relevant here is Crat. concludes that things have a stable essence (T. 31 Sedley 2003: 89–98.31 Let us brieÁy consider why the name-givers of old did not get the names of the non-divine entities right. Socrates. after having refuted the views of Protagoras and Euthydemus. cf. as Socrates stresses in his discussion with Cratylus.

1. Yet. whose job is to divide up reality. trans.33 Perhaps. That’s why we necessarily lack a good supply of names. In other words. it would be wrong to read the Cratylus as merely a warning against etymologizing as a way of examining the world. 1. He then continues by observing that we lack names to distinguish the two: T. was keen for knowledge and the cultivation of reason. and so they never even tried to divide them. just because the people who came before us were thoughtless and lazy about dividing kinds into types. This makes philosophizing by etymology a dangerous affaire. . we Ànd an even more straightforward passage. Plato Pol. discussed by Boys-Stones 2001: 10–11. they spent their time eating. What. Unfortunately. by means of which we conduct our dialectical 33 Cf. drinking.g. The Platonic dialectician. instead of Àlling their abundant spare time with philosophical discussion. it turns out that the name-givers of old failed to develop a correct understanding of the things that they set out to name because they did not do dialectic. Something more fundamental is at stake here.. 272b–d. living in some kind of Hesiodic Golden Age. If the only short-coming of the ancient name-givers had been that they had just failed to gain a correct understanding of the essence of a thing.9 and T. are we to make from the etymological passage? Etymology reveals that naming depends on the views that the name-giver holds about the world. At the end of the Sophist. no much harm would have been done. The reason why the ancient name-givers went wrong was that they were not working under the supervision of dialecticians. then. as they ought to have been. 1. from a Platonic perspective things are more problematic. White). and telling stories. The Eleatic visitor has just distinguished two types of imitators. e. would be just to disregard the etymology of a name and investigate afresh the nature of the thing itself.10 Where would you get a suitable name ( μ ) for each of them? Isn’t it obviously hard to. but also to divide up reality in the appropriate way. However.16 chapter one primitive man. T. should thus be aware that the way in which language divides the world might well be incorrect (cf.10).. Still. language. All a philosopher would have to do. As a result they not just failed to grasp the particular characteristic of each thing. even though it sounds daring let’s distinguish them by calling imitation accompanied by belief “belief-mimicry” and imitation accompanied by knowledge “informed mimicry” (Sophist 267d4–e3.

In the philosophical discourse that Plato calls dialectic philosophers use language to talk about meanings or concepts (or indeed. Yet in Crat. in daily life we use language to say such things as “the cat is on the mat”. that names are correct by nature.4). . He assumes that in the Cratylus we should distinguish between two types of discourse: ordinary language and the language used by the Platonic dialectician. in the case of a dialectical use of language it is important that naming follows nature. natural correctness: two types of language As we have seen in our perusal of Socrates’ discussion with Cratylus.36 As we have seen. claims that convention too plays a role in the correctness of names (cf. i.”35 To put it differently. J. 439c3–4 Socrates once again expresses his belief in the exegetical correctness of the Áux etymologies. T. lies at the heart of things. we we know what someone is thinking of when he says ‘ are able to communicate with each other. 437a–c when he redoes some etymologies in such a way that it seems that according to the ancient name-givers rest. Ackrill 1994: 21. Ackrill (1994) has offered a very helpful suggestion to solve this paradox.3 Conventional correctness vs. The Greek language in its entirety has been crafted by believers in the Áux doctrine and hence clearly not according to the instructions of dialecticians. somewhat surprisingly after his discussion with Hermogenes. Socrates. taking the point further. thus leaving many modern commentators wondering what to make of Plato’s deÀnitive position on the correctness of names. It sufÀces that we know what another means by a word and here the only thing that matters is that we use language according to shared conventions. rather than Áux.plato and aristotle 17 discussions. “In ordinary language people use language to talk about ordinary things.34 3. Plato wants to show that the rot is everywhere. about Forms). As long as ’. The dialectician does not ask and answer such questions as “where is the cat” or “is the cat on the mat?”. even though the ‘l’-sound 34 It may be objected that Socrates seems to undermine the exegetical correctness of the etymologies in Crat. 36 Cf. These considerations also explain the extraordinary length of the etymological session. The Greek language is in a mess.e. In the case of the everyday use of language for communication no such natural correctness is required. 35 Ackrill 1994: 28. He asks after deÀnitions: “what is a cat?”. 1. may well be unÀt for dialectical purposes.

the Forms.18 chapter one imitates softness. and Socrates thus steers the discussion back into the direction of dialectical language by asking Cratylus what he thinks that is the good of names. Hence the existence of knowledge requires the existence of unchanging objects of knowledge. conventional language and naturally correct. Socrates appears to be an etymological pessimist. but an epistemological optimist. Socrates’ doubts at the very end of the dialogue about the validity of the Áux-theory which informs most names has often been assumed to be a. . he thinks that it is possible to learn about the things through the things themselves. admittedly not very good.37 Plato’s interest in ordinary language as a means of communication is only limited. Cratylus responds that the good of them is that ). Etymology at best presents us with the opinions of the name-givers and we have no guarantee whatsoever that these are true. on the one hand he casts the reliability of etymology as an instrument for philosophical investigation into doubt. Knowledge is possible. Why would Socrates all of a sudden feel the need to produce such an argument? Rather it brings home the consequences for dialectic of the analysis of language 37 38 See pp. 89–91. No knowledge of things in extreme Áux is possible. because “anyone who knows a thing’s name they instruct ( also knows the thing” (Crat. Baxter 1992: 176–183 for a discussion of this interpretation and the responses to it. but are at the same time quite conÀdent that we may investigate them through etymology. It is supposed to go something like this:38 Sensible things are always in extreme Áux. They doubt our capacity to study the things through themselves. My main problem with this reading is that this argument comes somewhat out of the blue at the end of the dialogue. Thus we are back at the deÀnition of names as instruments of instruction that Socrates had previously suggested to Hermogenes. dialectical language will play an important role in Proclus’ discussion of the Cratylus. 435d). As we shall see. argument for the existence of Forms. On the other hand. this distinction between everyday. That is to say. Cf. It will thus be curious to Ànd that most Platonists who read the Cratylus are etymological optimists but epistemological pessimists. In his response to Cratylus.

as appears from the etymological section. e.3 (cf. will arouse the interest of Proclus—. 3. naming correctly depends on knowledge of the world and we can only have knowledge of unchanging things. it follows that these names are incorrect by nature. However. Cratylus. that names belong primarily to the Forms. 3. in Parm. Since. divide Being along natural lines into natural parts. .plato and aristotle 19 in the discussion with Hermogenes and of the etymological section. The very fact that he has just had a meaningful conversation with Socrates by means of incorrect names proves him wrong. hence names as dialectical instruments refer to Platonic Forms. i. Phd. names appear to deny that things have such stable essences. by wholeheartedly accepting Socrates’ account of the natural correctness of names. As T. This is not some new point that Socrates surprisingly conjures up. After all. had claimed that when one uses incorrect names. on this view.1 above). 1. and R. 1. 439c) indicates. Cratylus. had also unwittingly committed himself to this ontological claim. Dialectic is about knowledge and hence about stable essences. 2. as we shall see. In the etymological section we found that existing language is based on the assumption that everything is in a state of Áux. At the very beginning of the dialogue he had argued that the correctness of names is natural instead of conventional precisely because “things have some stable essence of their own” (see T. it is impossible to have knowledge of the things themselves. The reason for this is that convention sees to it that we understand each other all the same. even if incorrect names may still be effective tools for communication. These names. 102b. Elsewhere Plato often stresses. if not all. one is just making noise but not saying anything at all. if given correctly.4 Concluding remarks Let me brieÁy summarize the points about the Cratylus that I have made above and that will be of importance for the study of its ancient reception: 1. If.e. only secondarily to their participants in the sensible realm. they are unsuited for the dialectical investigation of the essences of things. And that is to my mind the crucial point that the Cratylus wishes to raise. this is because of the way in which the Àrst namegivers perceived the world. the Platonic Forms.g. it will be remembered. 130e5– 131a2—a texts which. these have to be ill given names. also Crat. most. 596a. The Cratylus is a dialogue about names as dialectical instruments.

6. These matters have been discussed in the work on the soul and do not belong to the present subject. trans. 10. just like spoken sound is not the same for all. 4. Ackrill 1963: 43). these are somehow actual things ( μ ) which. . These spoken sounds Ànally may be expressed in writing. As a result etymologies are likely to be philosophically incorrect and hence unreliable sources of knowledge about the things themselves. 9. neither are spoken sounds. And what these affections are likenesses of—actual things—are also the same. Moreover the dialectician is well advised to mistrust the way in which language divides the world. who begins De Interpretatione by deÀning μ is: what according to him an T. (De Inter. Unfortunately. are also the same all. 1. Aristotle on names: De Interpretatione Let us now turn to Aristotle. But what these are in the Àrst place signs of—affections of the soul—are the same for all. These names are also supposed to bring out what is characteristic of each part thus distinguished. These being likenesses ( μ μ affections may be expressed in (3) spoken sounds. As such these names ought to be the product of dialectical procedures which divide up being in search of the characteristics of its natural parts.20 chapter one 4. 8. 16a3–9. which are (conven) of these affections and are not the same for tional) symbols ( μ all. In Aristotle’s semantic model we have thus four elements: (1) the μ ) that are the same for all. the study of etymology reveals that existing language is not the product of dialectical considerations.11 Now spoken sounds are symbols of affections in the soul and written marks symbols of spoken sounds. This implies that correct naming can only be undertaken by those very few trained in dialectic or those working under the guidance of a dialectician. but reÁects a Heracleitian worldview based on the perception of the material world. responsible for (2) ‘affections of the soul’ ( ) of former. 5. Thus ordinary language is an imperfect tool for the dialectician. And just as written marks are not the same for all men. 7. which.

What is Aristotle’s reason for claiming that names are a matter of convention? It is sometimes assumed that this reason is supplied by the remark that names are not the same for all. 41 See. Any object as such might do. the object of sense acts upon the sentient subject so that the subject becomes like the object by taking over its form without its matter.g. μ of the aforementioned affections. Aristotle’s somewhat surprising claim that these thoughts are the same for all is best understood against the background of his psychology as discussed in De Anima III.g. e. deÀned by Aristotle as spoken sounds. say. or. III 4. e.. for he continues after the present passage with some remarks about truth conditions in which he claims μ ) is comparable to that the situation for thoughts (De Inter. e. 40 See. Charles 1994: 41–43 and Charles 2000: 81–83.40 Likewise. Put brieÁy. De An.g. 418a3–6. This was already a well-tried argument by the time of Aristotle in favor of the thesis that language is conventional. The use of the term μ already implies what Aristotle will later on say in so many words. Aristotle assumes that thinking functions analogously to sense perception.plato and aristotle 21 This tiny passage has provoked a lot of discussion in scholarly literature. i. Whitaker 1996: 13–17. Weidemann 1994: 141. As we have seen. . see. broken into two as part of an agreement.41 Now we come to the μ . De An. A μ two parts of an object. The object that functions as a μ by itself does not mean anything. It is meaningful because two parties have previously agreed about the meaning of it.. 429a13–18 and 430a3–4. Especially the nature of the ‘affections of the soul’ has been Àercely debated. In the case of sense perception. “please give this man a bed for the night and a meal”. in another case. for example a bone. the mind is acted . the upon by the object of thought ( μ ) in such a way that the form of the object of thought is taken on by the mind.. 16a10: that for names. Nowadays it is generally assumed that these are thoughts. cf. II 5. Hermogenes in the Cratylus 39 For this interpretation.e. Both parties kept a piece and could thus identify people as belonging to the other party by joining the two bits together. “pay this person a hundred drachmas”. Polansky and Kuczewski 1990. was one of the that names are a product of convention. on Aristotle’s theory at least.39 Aristotle himself hints in this direction.


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was arguing along those lines, while Proclus in his Commentary on the Cratylus ascribes this argument to Democritus.42 However, even though it may be that Aristotle thought that the diversity of language was an argument against it being by nature, he does not present it as such. μ as “a spoken Moreover, when he next discusses his deÀnition of sound signiÀcant by convention, without time, none of whose parts is signiÀcant in separation”,43 he gives another reason:
T. 1.12 I say ‘by convention’ because no name is a name naturally but only when it has become a symbol. For ( ) even inarticulate noises (of beasts, for instance) do indeed reveal something, yet none of them is a name (Aristotle Int. 16a26–29; trans. Ackrill adapted).

I take it that Aristotle’s point is simply that even though animal sounds μ . What makes a reveal something, no-one would call these name a name is thus not the fact that it is a means of communication. So are after all spontaneous animal cries. What distinguishes names from spontaneous signiÀcant cries is convention. Take a natural cry by which primitive man indicates that something is the matter. It has only become a proper name when it has become a symbol, i.e. when we have agreed that we signify this particular thing by means of this particular sound.44 Here, Aristotle appears to be in agreement with Plato. For as we have seen above, the Cratylus implies that to the extent that language is a means of communication, its correctness is a matter of convention. However, one remark by Aristotle does suggest criticism of Plato. (statement), When he comes to talk about the deÀnition of a he says:
T. 1.13 Every statement is signiÀcant (not as a tool but, as we said by convention), but not every sentence is a statement-making sentence, but only those in which there is truth or falsity (Aristotle Int. 16b33–17a3; trans. Ackrill).

Proclus In Crat. XVI p. 6, 23–25 discussed at pp. 104–106 below. Ackrill 1963: 114, interestingly, uses Plato’s Cratylus to argue against this argument. 43 Aristotle Int. 16a19–21 (trans. Ackrill). 44 Aristotle thus appears to be a forerunner of Epicurus, who famously holds that language initially arose naturally, since primitive man naturally emitted certain sounds when it perceived the various things, whereas in a second phase “particular coining were made by consensus within the individual races, so as to make the designations less ambiguous and more concisely expressed” (Cf. Epicurus Ep. Hdt. 75–76; trans. Long & Sedley 19a).


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) prompts The denial that a statement is signiÀcant as a tool ( one to wonder whether this is meant as a rejection of the statement in the Cratylus that names are tools. This question has often been answered in the afÀrmative.45 If so, this passage would constitute the Àrst reaction on the Cratylus. Let us therefore see how likely it is that Aristotle here has the Cratylus in mind. μ and not First, does it matter that Plato was talking about ? Not per se. The addition “as we said” refers us back about to something said earlier, which can only be, I think, T. 1.12. Thus μ holds equally true Aristotle assumes that what holds true for an . This is only to be expected, because a consists of for a μ and verbs, which are themselves some sort of μ .46 Aristotle in De Sensu puts it somewhat more explicitly:
T. 1.14 . . . while hearing announces only the distinctive qualities of sound, and to some few animals, those also of voice.47 Incidentally, however, it is hearing that contributes most to the growth of intelligence. For is a cause of instruction in virtue of being audible, which it is, not in its own right, but incidentally; since it is composed of words and each word is a μ (Aristotle De Sensu 437a9–16; trans. Beare)

A more serious problem for this line of interpretation is that Plato and Aristotle are talking about two different things. Aristotle claims are matters of that both the meaning of a name and that of a convention. When Plato in the Cratylus talks about names as tools he claims that their correctness as dialectical tools depends on the nature of things, not that they are signiÀcant because they are tools. In fact, as we have seen (§ 3.3), Plato himself had already called attention to the fact that the communicative force of names depends, at least in part, on convention. What, then, is the point that Aristotle wishes to make? Aristotle does is a tool of communication, what he denies is not deny that a

45 See, e.g., Ackrill 1963: 124; Montanari 1988: 305–312; Weideman 1994: 190–191; Whitaker 1996: 12; Modrak 2001: 52 n. 1; for the opposite view that Plato and Aristotle actually concur with each other, see Guthrie 1978: 20 n. 2. 46 Cf. 16b19–20: “when uttered just by itself a verb is a name and signiÀes something”. 47 The same distinction between mere sound ( ) and articulated voice is implied in T. 1.12 where Aristotle refers to “the inarticulate noises of animals” ( ). μμ


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is a tool of communication, it is meaningful.48 that because a is meaningful because it consists of names which in turn are A meaningful because they are conventional symbols. In conclusion it can be said that the remarks about the nature of language in De Interpretatione are quite unconnected to the discussion in the Cratylus and can not been interpreted as a reaction against them.49 No-where does Aristotle pronounce himself on the question of correctness of names, the central issue of the Cratylus. Apparently, the issue did not interest him. All the same Proclus, as we shall see, was convinced that Aristotle is here taking aim at the Cratylus and will stand up for the dialogue against Aristotle in his Commentary on the Cratylus. 5. Aristotle on language and philosophy Now that we have seen what according to Aristotle a name is, let us look what role he assigns to names in philosophical discourse. To some extent Aristotle ascribes the same function to language in general and names in a particular as Plato did. Like Plato, Aristotle assumes that we use language for didactic purposes (T. 1.14), because they divide the world in natural kinds. However, contrary to Plato, Aristotle does not mistrust ordinary language. In fact, he assumes that ordinary language is very informative about reality. Famously, he often starts his examination of a philosophical question from the way in which we use a certain name in ordinary language.50 Aristotle trusts ordinary language because he trusts that sense perception provides us with reliable information about reality. Plato imagines (T. 1.3) that the name-givers of old got dizzy from investigating the nature of the ever-changing sensible universe and thus ended up having confused ideas about the true, unchanging nature of things. Aristotle, on the other hand, is conÀdent that sense perception allows us to acquire correct universal concepts. These are the affections of the soul that are “the same for all” (T. 1.11) to which

48 Cf., e.g., Montanari 1988: 312—who assumes that Aristotle is attacking the Craan instrument. tylus—for the point that Aristotle does not deny that a 49 Rather than a response to the Cratylus, the Àrst chapters of De Interpretatione are inspired by Plato’s discussion in Soph. 261–263 of simple statements. 50 See, e.g., EN 1129a31–b1 where he begins his investigation of what ‘being unjust’ means by analyzing the various senses in which a man is said to be unjust; cf. his in the same treatise, and that of change and coming-to-be discussion of μ in GC (T. 1.16), which are both discussed in this paragraph.

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names refer.51 Therefore, names may constitute a good starting point for philosophical investigations. In this context, Aristotle’s discussion of various types of deÀnition in APo II 10 is relevant:
T. 1.15 Since a deÀnition is said to be an account given in reply to the ‘What is —?’ question, it is clear that one kind of deÀnition will be an account given in reply to the question ‘What is it that a name or name-like expression signiÀes?’ ( μ μ μ ) An example of such question is ‘What is it that “triangle” signiÀes?’ When we grasp that what (it is that) is signiÀed exists, we seek to answer the ‘Why?’ question. It is difÀcult to understand in this way (viz. through gaining an answer to the ‘Why?’ question) things which we do not know to exist (APo II 10, 93b29–35; trans. Charles 1994: 38).

D. Charles understands these different types of deÀnition as three stages in a process of scientiÀc investigation:52 Stage 1: One grasps an account of what a name or a name-like expression signiÀes. Stage 2: One grasps that what is signiÀed by a name or a name-like expression exists. Stage 3: One grasps the essence of the object/kind signiÀed by a name or name-like expressions. Thus, the study of names does not, according to Aristotle, teach you what exactly a thing is (i.e. stage 3), not even that it exists (stage 2). The meaning of a name provides one with some kind of a preliminary and partial deÀnition of a thing from which one may start the search for the deÀnite and essential deÀnition of that thing. Aristotle thus clearly

51 See, e.g., the famous discussion in APo. II 19 and the remarks about sense perception in § 4 above. The issue is well discussed by, e.g., Modrak 2001: 51: “The impact of the world on us through our senses and intellect produces the concepts that provide the foundations of knowledge and language, for empirically produced concepts not only are the basis of science, they also serve as the intentional content of the internal states that words symbolize. When one acquires a natural laguage, one acquires a classiÀcation scheme that is embodies in these internal states and expresses their contents. The concepts of natural language are roughly isomorphic with the things that are; scientiÀc concepts are isomorphic with the things that are. Since these objects have stability, senses of words are stable and, for general terms, reference is Àxed by sense, so that human beings equipped with a language are able to refer to and describe real objects”; Modrak 2001: 108–114 elaborates on this. 52 Charles 1994: 38–41.


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distinguishes between a nominal account (stage 1)53 and an essential account (stage 2). In doing so, he differs from Plato. The latter had postulated that correctly established names express the nature of their objects. Thus according to him, the true meaning of names is not some sort of concept that we happen to have, but the very essence of its bearer.54 About Aristotle’s nominal account Charles observes:
This type of account need not involve any reÁection on what holds the relevant kind together, or indeed on whether the kind has an essence at all. It could be grasped by one who thought that this term marked out an objective kind (‘cut the world at its joints’), but had no views about whether (for example) kinds have essences or underlying structures. Its role is rather to hold up a kind for further scientiÀc enquiry into its nature. Such introductory accounts play an important role in enquiry but need not themselves give materials uniquely to identify the relevant kind.55

So, contrary to Plato, Aristotle assumes that the way in which language divides the world is likely to be correct. Philosophers who divide the world in a way different from the division implied by names face an uphill struggle when they wish to convince Aristotle. Take, for example, Aristotle’s remarks at the beginning of De Generatione and Corruptione. Aristotle sets himself the task to distinguish the causes and deÀnitions of coming-to-be and passing away and to investigate:
T. 1.16 whether we are to suppose that the nature of alteration ( ) and coming-to-be ( ) is the same, or whether each is of a separate nature corresponding to the names by which they are distinguished ( μ ). Of the ancient philosophers some assert that what is called ‘simple’ ( ) coming-to-be is alteration while others hold that alteration and coming to be are different processes. Those who hold that the universe is a simple entity and who generate all things from a single thing, must necessarily maintain that coming-tobe is alteration, and that what comes-to-be in the proper sense of the term ( μ ) undergoes alteration (Aristotle GC 314a4–11; trans. Forster).

Plato would have no trouble whatsoever to claim that names as they are used in ordinary Greek do not distinguish reality correctly and that

53 As De Rijk 2002: 691–692 observes, all commentators, both ancient and modern, interpret the Àrst deÀnition as a nominal deÀnition. 54 Cf. Baxter 1992: 72–80 who observes that Socrates in the Cratylus does not distinguish between nominal deÀnitions (i.e. the meaning of words) and real deÀnition (i.e. deÀnitions that bring out the essence of things); cf. also Ackrill 1994. 55 Charles 1994: 62.

58 GC 18b 18–33. The statement that according to Aristotle names represent reality fairly correctly needs qualiÀcation. Aristotle also takes a more positive view of etymology.57 In EN 1123a34–35. Aristotle appears critical about the way in which the hoi ) and ‘perishing’ ( ). When something changes into perceptible matter. when it changes into something they call it ‘becoming’ ( unperceivable. they call it ‘perishing’. Aristotle assumes that etymology reveals the opinions of the ancient name-givers. He assumes that refers to the fact that moderation saves wisdom the name μ μ . According to Aristotle. The name reveals that it is about ‘great things’ ( μ μ ). he by analysing the name of this starts his examination of μ μ virtue. on the other hand. but instead focuses on the rivalling view according to which alteration and coming-to-be are two different things since almost all philosophers think so.58 polloi use the terms ‘becoming’ ( ) between becoming and perishing on the They distinguish ( basis of perception. Plato offers the same etymology in Crat. ( ). . is suspicious of the theory of some Presocratics that coming to be in the proper sense is just change. the equation of being with 56 57 Aristotle GC 315b16. These need not necessarily be correct. Like Plato.56 In keeping with this. precisely because it contradicts ordinary language. ). Plato produces all those etymologies in order to throw the etymological procedure into doubt. However. but they may well be. The reason for this is that their criterion for distinguishing being from not-being is whether a thing is perceived or not. not as an aid to grasp the nature of things. that he does not think it necessary to refute this claim. As Sedley 2003: 31 points out. though. in fact. for example. for example. In De Generatione et Coruptione. Interestingly. 411e4f. In EN 1140b11–12 Aristotle cites the etymology of (moderation) in order to corroborate his analysis of it.plato and aristotle 27 the proper sense of a name is altogether different from the one that it has in everyday language. The question now is: what great μ )? Note how Aristotle moves things ( from the Àrst stage of deÀnition (to grasp the signiÀcance of a name) to the third stage (to grasp the essence of the thing signiÀed by that name). The interpretation of this passage that now follows above is that of Rashed 2005: lxx–lxxiv. Aristotle. So suspicious.

whereas Aristotle remains silent about it. It reveals that people instinctively understand that becoming is a development from not-being towards being. EN 1107b7–9: .” 60 EN 1107b2: μ . many virtues and vices appear to be without names. i.e. qui est celle de la langue naturelle non rectiÀée par la philosophie.60 6. the realm of the intelligible Forms. C’est ce dernier point qui importe à Ar. Conclusive remark: Plato. 17: “Troisième intuition. the names that the dialectician has at his disposal do not necessarily Àt intelligible 59 Cf. since there are only few of them. il est dans le vrai en orientant instinctivement le devenir du non-être vers l’être. Aristotle here seems to agree with Plato that name-givers may have got it wrong because they focused on the sensible realm. he may discover that some things are without names. Aristotle thus proposes to call them the ‘insensible’.59 Neither does Aristotle think that names necessarily offer us an exhaustive division of reality. for example. Since the name-givers of old apparently did not look at the intelligible realm but at the sensible realm. In those cases. By now it may be clear why Plato devoted a whole dialogue to the topic. the apt summary of this passage by Rashed 2005: 117 additional n. 1 to p. To Plato the correctness of names is an issue since a Platonic dialectician uses names to discuss the structure of what he perceives to be reality. still he believes that it points to the truth . a philosopher may have to coin an appropriate name himself. Même si le vulgaire se trompe en assignant le perceptible à l’être. Aristotle did not discuss the topic of the correctness of names. Aristotle and the issue of the correctness of names As we have already noted. no name for those people who have a defective response to pleasure. However. There is an important difference though: Aristotle may deny that the ordinary usage of the terms of becoming and perishing is entirely correct. To give just one example: Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics famously holds that every virtue is a mean in between a vice of deÀciency and a vice of excess. Thus. even though they fail to understand exactly the nature of both being and non-being. Once a philosopher starts analysing reality. of the matter all the same ( ). μ . There is. a name that Àts this unfortunate group of people well.28 chapter one being perceptible is wrong. le non-perceptible au non-être. .

plato and aristotle 29 reality. there exists no fundamental difference between the objects of (ordinary) language and those of philosophy. which is to say that they are unsuited for the purpose of Platonic dialectic. . Aristotle does not postulate an intelligible realm Philosophy. but that is not something that a philosopher when philosophizing is interested in. Thus. When they fail to do so. Hence the Platonic problem of the correctness of names does not occur. names are incorrect. starts with the individual in the sensible realm. in one way or another. They may well be suited for everyday communication.


that Plato’s dialogues seem to be designed precisely to refute such attempts. pp. One of the major problems with these attempts was. as the still on-going debate about the correct interpretation of the Cratylus may remind us. many Platonists showed themselves quite critical of various aspects of Peripatetic and Stoic philosophy. be it in a far more systematic way. of course. VII 341d–e that Plato did not produce a systematic account of his philosophy because this would be impossible. it is well-known. the perceptive remark by the author of Ep. Aristotle and the Stoics.CHAPTER TWO THE MIDDLE PLATONISTS: CONSTRUCTING PLATONIC DOCTRINES 1. 1–43. In fact. by their own admittance. I will refrain from using this label here since the term is extremely ambiguous (cf.1 The Middle Platonists looked to the Peripatetics and Stoics for inspiration. Middle Platonism. Later Platonists argued that the doctrines of these schools could thus at least in part be seen as expositions of Plato’s views. In this chapter. Introduction About the Old Academy we know little. esp. On the idea .2 1 Cf. about its interest in the Cratylus even less. The never-ending search for knowledge by casting doubt over everything was replaced by attempts to construct a systematic account of Plato’s philosophy on a par with the systems of the popular Hellenistic schools such as the Stoa and Epicurism. All the same. had drawn on Plato’s philosophy. Donini 1988: 32: “[t]he history of the discussion seems to produce an exhortation to employ the term sparingly”). I shall therefore move straight to the Middle Platonists. be it with an occasional glance backwards to Plato’s immediate heirs such as Speusippus and Xenocrates. Platonists started to import elements as well as terminology from other philosophical schools in their expositions of Plato’s philosophy in the belief that these elements were part of the Platonic tradition. This kind of Platonism is sometimes called ‘eclectic’. started off as a reaction against the scepticism of the New Academy in the Àrst century BCE. This is not to say that they thought that the Stoics and Aristotle were full-blooded Platonists. 2 I derive this account of the way in which Middle Platonists understood and used Peripatetic and Stoic philosophy from Karamanolis 2006.

we shall Ànd in this chapter that Platonists bring the Aristotelian theory of names as symbols and the Stoic theory of etymology to bear on the Cratylus in order to construct a clear-cut doctrine concerning names. which they plundered in their search for building blocks for their systematic accounts of the master’s doctrines. I shall discuss the most substantial Middle Platonic discussion of the Cratylus. I will start this paragraph by a brief presentation of the Stoic and Epicurean views on language. This discussion will serve as a Àrm basis for the rest of the chapter. following the example set by the Peripatos.3 This has probably less to do with the capricious fortunes of textual transmission and more with the way in which the Middle Platonists approached the Platonic corpus. also Boys-Stones 2001: 123–150. The Neoplatonists. for example against the incorporation of Aristotle’ semantic theory into Platonism. . The importance of the Middle Platonists for the history of Platonism in general and for the interpretation of the Cratylus in particular should not be underrated. for instance. will make critical use of the work of the Middle Platonists in their commentaries. both in the sense that it takes over some elements from the Middle Platonic interpretations. a section from in Alcinous’ Handbook of Platonism. which will deal with such diverse authors as Antiochus of Ascalon. see Westerink 1976: 8–10. then.4 Because Hellenistic theories of language determined the way in which the Cratylus was read. for we have no Middle Platonic equivalent to Proclus’ Commentary.” 4 For the slow adoption of the commentary as the format for philosophical writing by the Middle Platonists. that Aristotelianism and Stoicism derived from Plato’s philosophy. cf. who too assume that Plato was a doctrinal philosopher. their relation to the nominata. Next. do we have to look for Middle Platonic discussions of the Cratylus? Evidence is scarce and scattered. such as the interpretation of the etymological section of the Cratylus in terms of Stoic etymological theory. and that it reacts against others. Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus provides a good illustration in point.32 chapter two In the case of the Cratylus. and Ànally Galen. Plutarch of Chaeroneia. 3 Dörrie-Baltes 1993: 196: “Kommentare zum Kratylos scheinen die Mittelplatoniker nicht verfaßt zu haben. Philo of Alexandria. Where. and their function in philosophical inquiries. fully embraced the commentary as the principle medium for the expression of philosophical ideas. It was not until the second half of the second century CE that Platonists.

for they both seek to answer the question of how language relates to reality and hence to the question of the role that language plays in philosophy. see Fehling 1965: 218–229..the middle platonists 2. It is thus generally assumed that the Cratylus informed the Stoic theory of names. he is here presented as the most prominent representative of the view that names are just the product of imposition. the central issue in Hellenistic theories of language was that ( of the origin of names. on the basis of which they propose some elements of etymology? Or are names. including Alcinous and Proclus. Are names. 6 5 . positing that the Àrst sounds imitate the things to which the names belong. as we have seen. as the Stoics believe. neither in the sense that names are (necessarily) images of their objects. In contrast to Aristotle. since the Àrst men uttered certain sounds concerning the things? (Origen Contra Celsum I 24). Both in ancient and ( modern times the two questions tended to get confused. many ancient author. 2. they are not unrelated. whether names are the product of imposition ) or of a spontaneous natural process ( ). the Stoics suppose that names are the product of a name-giver who designs names in such a way that they resemble their objects. a product of nature yet in a manner different from that of the Stoics. For that reason. By implication there is nothing natural about names.5 Even though these may be two different questions. Aristotle. arbitrary symbols. were quite capable of distinguishing the two. the Stoics hold that names are the product of nature in a manner that recalls Socrates’ theory in the Cratylus.1 We should respond to this that a deep and obscure debate bears on this topic. Background: Stoic and Epicurean theories of language 33 Whereas the central question in the Cratylus had been whether the ) or nature correctness of names is a matter of convention ( ). the product of imposition ( )? Or are they.6 Like Socrates in the Cratylus. as we shall see. even though. the Stoa. see. as Aristotle thinks. that of the nature of names. nor in the sense that names are the product of nature. In a well-known text. and Epicurus as follows: T. the patristic author Origen describes the positions of Aristotle. Barwick 1957: 70–79 and Long 2005. Since names are thus determined by the nature On the issue. the product of nature ( ). as Epicurus teaches. e. holds that names are purely conventional. On the inÁuence of the Cratylus on the Stoa.g.

11 Socrates urges his public to study the things themselves.8 Origen tells us that these ‘Àrst sounds’ played a role in Stoic μ is of Stoic origin. The name ‘lana’ (wool.34 chapter two of things. Allen 2005: 16–17. Varro fr. apparently assuming that we may be capable of such a thing. Quite to the contrary. Even though Plato. 8 Cf. ever-changing world instead of on the real objects of knowledge. e. the sound ‘l’ evokes notions of smoothness and softness (Crat. The Stoics do not share Socrates’ pessimism about the capacities of the ancient name-givers.. see. indicate the science of discovering the true meaning of a word. the Stoics believe that because of these Àrst sounds a name will generate the same sort of sensation in the hearer as the perception of the actual object would. even though they have been fabricated by a human name-giver..J. for the interpretation of etymology as the discovery of the true meaning of a word. cited by Long 2005: 41 and Sluiter 1990: 35–36. see. Names imitate ) of which their objects by means of the ‘Àrst sounds’ ( they are composed.. 10 On the meaning of μ . These sounds are akin to the elementary names of the Cratylus. assumes that etymology reveals the opinions of the name-givers regarding the nature of things.. 434c4–5). 113 Goetz-Schoell. of two books by Chrysippus entitled μ and μ (Diogenes Laertius VII 200. the example is from Varro) contains the smooth sound ‘l’. Rather the opposite appeared to be the case. We have no reason to presuppose that the ancient name-givers enjoyed a better understanding of the world than we do.10 It is at this point that Plato and the Stoics part ways. s.g. In a similar vein. e. On the Stoic ‘Àrst sounds’. 208–209 for a comparison to the Cratylus. Hearing the name ‘lana’ thus produces the same sort of sensation as when we actually feel the smoothness of wool by touching it. and Tieleman 1996: 198 and pp. they may be regarded as the product of nature. see. e.v.g. as is often thought.g. 15–16 above. μ II.S.7 According to Socrates. 9 We know.9 It does etymology. L. Herbermann 1996. Barwick 1957: 29.g. like the Stoics. the very word not. 11 See pp. but instead that of Ànding in words the true facts ( μ ) about the objects that they name. The Àrst namegivers focussed on the sensible. they believe that the Àrst humans actually understood the nature of 7 Long 2005: 40–42 suggests that the Stoic theory was intended as an improved version of the Platonic theory. the intelligible realm. he does not think that the study of names is in any way philosophically helpful. 9). e. In fact. .

15 In his Compendium of Greek Theology he interprets Greek mythology in terms of Stoic cosmology. ancient myths are cosmological allegories. the original myths had become distorted over time. 435d–436a. This is not to say that the Stoics follow Cratylus’ claim that whoever knows a thing’s name also knows the thing itself and that a thing’s name is the best and only way to discover the nature of things. 76. For that reason the Stoics take a special interest in the etymology of the divine names that appear in those myths. Elucidation of these myths.16 His discussion of Hestia may serve as an illustration in point. see Most 1989. Long 1996. ). Boys-Stones 2001: 54–6. 207–209 for the role of etymology in Cornutus. Boys-Stones 2001: 28–59. especially pp. Sadly though. Since the Stoics maintain that there is no metaphysical realm. 16 Cornutus c. since these contain bits of the superior insights of these primitive men. Ordinary language is the only language there is and because of the wisdom of the ancient name-givers we may trust it to be correct. He does so on the assumption that the ancients were competent students of the world and well equipped to philosophize about it by means of symbols and riddles. For a very instructive account of the function of etymology in Stoic philosophy. the Stoics believe. a Stoic philosopher from the time of Nero. Crat. is nothing else than the earth. 15 On Cornutus. unlike Plato. since these names are not very likely to have been tampered with by later generations. only this sensible world. 13 12 . cf. Yet names yield sound conceptions that may function as a reliable starting point for further investigation. 2–5.the middle platonists 35 things far better than we do. 35 p. may help to conÀrm their own philosophy. This holds true also for the names of the gods. On the theme of primitive superior wisdom in Stoicism. making frequent use of etymologies of divine names. do not provide us with full-blown deÀnitions. 14 On the Stoics’ attitude to mythology and their etymologies of divine names.13 Thus. he explains.12 Names. the names coined by the ancients are supposed to refer uniquely to the material realm. Long 1996: 70–75. the Stoics do not distinguish between ordinary language that may be unreliable. and a superior sort of philosophical language. provides a good illustration of this. see Tieleman 1996: 196–218. cf. According to the Stoics. Further investigation will be necessary. The ancients Hestia ( called it Hestia because it remains stationary through everything ( Cf.14 Cornutus. Within this perspective it makes sense to study the names of things. according to the Stoics.

e. 19 Proclus In Crat. 4–7. At a third stage certain men came to know unseen entities to which they gave names. She is sometimes called a virgin since. 401c–d. initially at least. because she does not move at all. see Verlinsky 2005 for a recent discussion of this passage that takes stock of the extensive secondary literature. e. to Epicurus. 18 17 . such as the day turning into night and bodies moving from one place to another. be it in a different way. Hdt. see Long & Sedley 1987 text 19A.17 I call attention to this etymology. and groaning. These we cannot perceive themselves. names did not come into being by imposition μ μ ). 28 p. Epicurus here refers to the discovery of such things such as time and void. Proclus reports that we may compare these sounds to such spontaneous sounds like coughing. thus producing a certain sound. According to Epicurus Ep. 8. some Platonists such as Plutarch and Porphyry will. thus triggering different reactions. seeing a tree.19 Because of racial differences the same stimuli. Later Epicurean authors heap ridicule Cornutus c. but because it clearly brings out that Cornutus believes that divine names refer to physical entities. others the product of conscious reasoning μ ). she does not produce anything. As we shall see below. a ) make certain impositions ( ) in order tribe would together ( to make the already existing language less ambiguous. under the inÁuence of the practice of Stoic etymology. make the same assumption. not because it differs from that of Plato Crat. ( Epicurus seeks to explain the relation between names and their objects in a natural way. Most likely. did not affect various tribes identically. 106–109 below. For a presentation of this text. we Ànd that the Epicureans too held that names are the product of nature. discussed at pp. such as Plotinus and Proclus. whereas others. 52. bellowing.18 Sensory stimuli caused ( primitive men to exhale breath in a particular fashion. 14–17. some names were originally forced ( natural reactions to stimuli. At a second stage. Thus. according ). see Atherton 2005: 124–125 for an evaluation of this text as a testimony of Epicurus’ theory. He does away with the authoritative name-giver from the Cratylus and the Stoic theory.g. 75–76. yet we develop a concept of them from what we do perceive. sneezing. will assume that divine names refer to metaphysical entities.36 chapter two μ ). i. barking. XVII p. This explains the diversity of languages. When we turn next to Origen’s presentation of the Epicurean position. 4–7.

for example. once commonly but wrongly referred to as Albinus. imagines how primitive men would soon get fed up with such a name-giver who constantly bleats to them meaningless sounds in their ears. 2. 5 p. it may have been composed at any place at any time in the Àrst centuries CE. no later than the middle or late third century. Its author. A handbook on the Cratylus: Alcinous Didaskalikos c. Plato] gives indications of the ten categories both in the Parmenides and elsewhere.20 Below. Alcinous discusses the Cratylus under the heading of logic. Diogenes of Oenoanda 10. see Dillon 1977: 269.23 The ( topic of the dialogue is etymology: T. he [sc.21 Whether or not one believes that Alcinous’ work is a revision of handbook on Platonism by Arius Didymus. 24. Diogenes of Oenoanda thinks it completely absurd to presuppose that a name-giver would Àrst assemble his fellow men (how could he manage to do that in those primitive times?) and then. 41 3. see the masterly edition with translation and commentary by Whittaker-Louis 1990 and the English translation with commentary by Dillon 1993. pp. 15 (= Long & Sedley 1987 text 19c). for the term ‘dialectic’ being preferred over ‘logic’. as he prefers to call it by a more Platonic name.2 Again. 156. Whittaker 1990: xvi–xvii. Handbook of Plato’s doctrines.the middle platonists 37 on such a Àgure. 108–109 and 113 for a discussion. 2 . c. 3. the experts’ opinion is that he bases himself entirely on the work of his predecessors. 20 . is nothing but a name to us: Alcinous. like a schoolteacher. 22 On Alcinous’ dependence on predecessors and Arius Didymus in particular. Given its Middle Platonic content. 43–160. and in the Cratylus he goes thoroughly into the whole topic of etymology ( μ ).1 The Cratylus: a logical dialogue on etymology The darkness of time surrounds the . Dillon 1993: xxix. Atherton 2005 esp. 21 On the Didaskalikos. 23 Alcinous Did.11–5. Lucretius. see also Tarrant 2000: 191–194. but given the complete absence of Neoplatonic elements. Its date of composition is unknown. see Dillon 1993: 72. point with a rod to a thing and tell them to call it by this or that name. the reconstruction of the standard interpretation of the Cratylus in Middle Platonic circles. 6. 159.22 This lack of originality is only to be welcomed in view of the purpose of this chapter. the Lucretius DRN V 1050–5. cf. or dialectic ). In general. we shall see that Alcinous and Philo will respond to this point of criticism. For a discussion of Alcinous’ treatment of the Cratylus.

Alcinous Did. 28 See pp. c. a study in etymology. 6. UsenerRadermacher. Sextus Empiricus Adv.28 Alcinous explicitly highlights this passage in the Ànal paragraph of his discussion of the Cratylus that takes up nearly a quarter of the whole section dedicated to the dialogue. the very concept of the supposed wisdom of the ancients was a Stoic invention that was at odds with Plato’s own views on both the intellectual capacities of intellectual mankind and the trustworthiness of names.27 This interpretation of the Cratylus as a logical dialogue was obviously inspired by the passage in which Socrates presents names as the tools of the dialectician. VII 9. at least in part. ethics. Diogenes Laertius III 50 and 58. to see that later generations hailed Plato as the Àrst etymologist and the most successful one at that. 29 As claims Dionysius of Halicarnassos De comp. Math. all of which demonstrate particularly well the power of dialectic (Alcinous Did. and logic. The fact that the word in the Cratylus. It was subsequently taken over by the Stoa and hence became highly inÁuential. On the so-called ‘character’ of Platonic dialogues. e. 31. and logic that Alcinous uses to structure his handbook.26 This division was first introduced by Xenocrates. . suggests that Plato himself considered the Cratylus as a 421a–b: dialogue on a logical topic. 3–4. 25–28. ).38 chapter two man was supremely competent in. who succeeded Speusippus as head of the Old Academy. and a connoisseur of. 43–160. It is remarkable.24 Middle Platonists routinely called the Cratylus ‘logical in character’ ). 3 (= Adv. see further Mansfeld 1994: 74–84. ethics. 3 ed. the thing under discussion or physics. 3) who does not mention the Cratylus by name. 26 Cf.. 3 p.g. cf. division <and analysis>. Eusebius PE XI 6 (note that he too discusses the Cratylus at the very end of his treatment of logic). One explanation of why this misconception could All translations of Alcinous are by Dillon 1993. p. Logicos I 9. but tacitly refers to it. . For the logical character of the Cratylus. Albinus Prologos 3 p.25 This label refers to the tripartite division of philosophy into ( physics. p. 27 Sedley 1998: 149 f. then. He points to the fact that the names that are discussed can be divided into nests of words in the sphere of cosmology μ . Alcinous’ designation of the Cratylus as a work about etymology testiÀes of the inÁuence of Stoicism. c. 18–63. see.29 All Platonists that we shall discuss in this study suppose somehow that the Cratylus is. is etymologized among other words that have logical connotations (Crat. 148. As we have seen in the previous μ as a means of discovering paragraph. 159. 61. 153. 25 24 . verb. the procedures of deÀnition. makes the intriguing suggestion that this tripartite division of philosophy can in fact be traced back to the Cratylus. 3).

see Mansfeld 2003. division. c. 156. 32 Alcinous Did. 388 b13–c1: μ μ .33 He may not say so in so many words. that etymology may play a role in philosophical investigations. he continues to say that in general. i. has as its fundamental purpose Àrst the examination of the essence of every thing. 2. by means of division and deÀnition. 30 Boys-Stones 2001. directly after identifying etymology as the topic of the dialogue.31 it seems obvious enough that later Greek philosophy. they started to perceive of philosophy not as an attempt to discover the truth by oneself. Van den Berg 2001b. whatsoever.2 when. pp. on the adoption of the doctrine of primitive wisdom and the conception of philosophy as an attempt to retrieve this wisdom by later Platonists. but as an attempt to rediscover the wisdom of the ancients. 6 p. 31 For a critical discussion. This idea of deÀnition through etymology explains a subtle addition by Alcinous to what is basically a quotation from the Cratylus: Plato Crat.e. R.” . see esp. like the Stoics. that is to say. see esp. A successful etymology reveals the essence of a thing and hence offers some kind of deÀnition. 8–14. . 5. by means of analysis . in dialectic. that they were therefore interested in etymology. In his insightful book on post-Hellenistic philosophy. held ancient wisdom in high esteem. 33 Cf. but this is at least implied in T. 160. G. or ‘from below’. according to Plato. as the shuttle does for the weaving of cloth.30 Even though one may be critical of some aspects of Boys-Stones’ study. for my own views cf. . on Plato’s own views on primitive mankind.the middle platonists 39 catch on is that the Stoic theory of the superior wisdom of primitive mankind became an universally accepted matter of fact. Plato was supremely competent in the procedures of deÀnition. including notably the Platonists indeed. and that this determined the way in which the Cratylus was understood. c. 24–28: “Dialectic. It enquires into the nature of each thing either ‘from above’. A name is a tool for giving instruction. pp. 99–122. 23–25: “he is the best name-giver who indicates through the name the nature of the thing”. Since Alcinous assumes that the analyses of names in the Cratylus are not just exegetical correct but philosophical as well. p.32 Giving deÀnitions is a part of dialectic and this explains why Alcinous brings up the subject of etymology in a discussion of dialectic. and then of its accidents. he assumes. . and (perhaps) analysis. Boys-Stones has recently argued that in fact this theory determined the nature of all later ancient philosophy: because philosophers became convinced that the ancients had enjoyed this superior understanding. Alcinous Did. for dividing being.

but still it is. the name is an instrument which teaches about and distinguishes the essence of each thing. a name. Proclus in his commentary on the dialogue—Alcinous is not committed to any of the examples of etymology offered by Plato. signiÀcant. This is. I suggest. these two functions are not mutually exclusive. according to the Cratylus names are used by the dialectician to mark parts of reality that he has separated off by means of dialectical division while at the same time it is suggested that they are informative does not about the nature of their objects.34 He distinguishes between two ways in which a name may be said to be an didactic instrument of division: by means of ‘taxonomy’ and by means of ‘analysis’. he derives which recalls Crat. Burnet. 5–6. a name marks off some species as a species. In the Cratylus names are supposed to cut up the totality of things ). It is instructive to compare this to the Sedley’s discussion of names as instruments of instruction. Alcinous. 165. woodpeckers from crows. this etymology is out of place and should be excised from the text of the Cratylus. 160. 4 may vaguely echo Crat. but that his only interest is in the method or theory of etymology. e. for instance. However. 2. I think. μ μ . About a method of how to 35 34 . its ontological or deÀnitional components. 6 p. 181. e. yet unfortunately he makes little of the etymologies from . 28–30: . as is indeed the case in both the old and new OCT editions. whereas the text from the Cratylus points towards the former. 27 p.g. it has been argued that—contrary to. One would love to see Alcinous add some Áesh to the bare bones of his theory. 10 p. as the shuttle does for the weaving of cloth. From this absence of etymologies in the Didaskalikos. After all. separates that object’s nature into. c. 400 a 8–10. by describing its object.35 Sedley 2003: 59–66.. from the Cratylus.g. a woodpecker is an animal that is distinguished by its activity of pecking wood. that as Sedley argues. 415d4–5 ed. Alcinous adds : a name is a didactic instrument which ( teaches and distinguishes the essence of each thing. Alcinous can clearly be seen to place emphasis on the theory regarding etymology: etymology provides both reliable and useful information about the nature of things. as it were. Tarrant 2000: 191–193. In the second case. I think.3 Alcinous Did. Let it be added though. has the latter function in mind. Alcinous c. In c.40 chapter two T. So the addition of do much harm. In the Àrst case. not entirely true.

he presents what he perceives to be the very core of the dialogue: T. it is only natural to be interested both in the skills of investigation of the master and in the results from the application of them by the master himself. It had already been done from the times of Antiochus.the middle platonists 41 This argument e silentio carries little conviction.g. Proclus’ critical attitude towards Aristotelian logic will to no small extent shape his Commentary on the Cratylus. Plato investigates whether names are the product of nature or imposition. not to have mastered any skill of etymologizing. Socrates claims to be driven forth by divine inspiration. he claims that Plato gives indications of the ten Aristotelian categories both in the Parmenides and elsewhere. Alcinous does not just relate the Cratylus to Stoic etymology but also to Aristotelian logic. If one sees Plato as the great authority. 2.. . including Plotinus and Proclus. 3. What we are being offered is a thumbnail sketch of Platonism. 36 As observes Dillon 1993: 72. though not without qualiÀcation and not as if anything goes ( μ ). In doing so he is not alone. In T. In fact.4 The subject matter of the Cratylus is as follows. Throughout his discussion of Platonic dialectic. about whom more below.2 Names: by nature or imposition ( )? Once Alcinous has stated that the Cratylus is a logical dialogue dealing with etymology. It is easy to see why: there is no method to be found in the etymological extravaganza that is the Cratylus. but in the sense that the imposition is in accordance with the nature of the thing that is being named ( etymologize successfully he keeps silent. as Alcinous clearly does. and indeed it seems that any wild association goes in order to explain the meaning of a word. and we can only expect things to be absent.36 As we shall see in the next chapter. onwards and was done by Alcinous’ own contemporaries. The absence of etymological borrowings from the Cratylus in the Didaskalikos does not mean much. Alcinous will frequently claim Aristotelian and even Stoic logical discoveries for Plato. Neoplatonists such as Porphyry will continue to operate on the assumption that Aristotelian logic is compatible with Platonic dialectic. e. will object to this harmonization of the two and stress that these are two different things all together. Others though. 2. He favors the idea that the correctness of names is a matter of imposition ( ).2. This is not an isolated case.

nature is a ‘paradigmatic’ cause of names. there would not be incorrect names.e. whereas there evidently are. that names were originally spontaneous utterances prompted by nature ).e. that Alcinous could not neglect the subtitle of the Cratylus. i. By Alcinous’ time it had become customary to refer to Plato’s dialogues by a double title.38 Like Origen.e. in which sense. Even though Alcinous’ interpretation of the subject matter of the Cratylus is clearly informed by the Hellenistic debate about the origin of language. nature makes us emit certain sounds when we perceive certain things and in this way produces names. if so. reversely. i. names are modeled after the speciÀc natures of their objects. i. For he believes that neither arbitrary imposition of a name is by itself enough to make a name correct. nor are nature and the Àrst utterance. if names were either completely ( a product of imposition or. Neoplatonists such as Proclus and Ammonius raised the same question and answered it in much the same way as Alcinous does here. 2–13). but a combination of the two so that each name is given conformable to the nature of its object. he shows himself aware that the problem discussed in the Cratylus is that of the correctness of language. that names are the product of arbitrary imposition. 105 and p. Those who accept nature and the Àrst utterances as the origins of names. was a standard one in discussions of the Cratylus. whereas he continues to point out that the Cratylus deals with the issue of the correctness of names. However. Proclus will direct a similar argument against Aristotle. and the position that the latter ascribes to Epicurus. 38 37 . pp. as Alcinous sees it.42 chapter two μ ). i.39 It may seem strange that Alcinous assumes that the Cratylus is really about the question whether names are by nature or imposition. an Cf. 160. 103–109 for Proclus. As we shall see. (Alcinous Did. not that of the origin of language.37 For.e. of nature. The reason is. see p. 39 Cf. and pp. 6. c. the Àrst taken from the name of a dramatis persona (or. Alcinous here implicitly distinguishes between two ways of being ‘by nature’. the translation in Whittaker-Louis 1990: ‘l’action de la nature’. He apparently assumes that from Plato’s theory about the correctness of language it follows that he rejects both the position that Origen ascribes to Aristotle. 110 below. in the case of the Symposium. I suggest. p. make nature the productive cause of names. The question whether according to Plato names are by imposition or by nature and. 201–205 for Ammonius.

96–98. 37 and Olympiodorus In Alc. However. to be discussed below. who believes that the Cratylus is about the human soul yet feels compelled to explain how this relates to the issue of the correctness of names. 89).5. 2. 43 See pp. Tracing back the logical-etymological interpretation: Antiochus of Ascalon As we have seen above. The use of Greek terminology in our testimony T. This poses a problem to those interpreters who want to take a different line on the text. but a fascinating testimony about Antiochus of Ascalon (born around 130 BCE) from Cicero’s dialogue Academica Posteriora44 provides us with an interesting hint that this may in fact be a fairly early On the titles of Platonic dialogues. it provides in a way a micro-interpretation of it. the second one from the contents. 42 According to Diogenes Laertius III 57–8 it was Thrasyllus. it was perceived of as part of the text under discussion. Alcinous presents his interpretation of the Cratylus as a logical dialogue dealing with etymology as an established matter of fact. 17. as reported by Diogenes Laertius III 58–61. Philoponus In Mete. court astrologer to the emperor Tiberius. the Cratylus is indeed listed by this double name. see Mansfeld 1994: 71–74. Dillon 1977: 62 thinks it reasonable to treat the Ciceronian evidence concerning Antiochus as if they were works of Antiochus. the dialogue will be known under this double title down to the end of Antiquity (see. Since the second title bears on the contents of the dialogue. Be this as it may.43 4. not as a piece of commentary that one could ignore at will. Furthermore. as Alcinous does here. 2. We do not know who was the Àrst to put forward this interpretation. The same goes mutatis mutandis for Proclus.the middle platonists 43 event).40 In the case of the Cratylus the title indicates that the correctness of names is the issue under μ . Hermogenes’ brief speech at the beginning of the Cratylus (383a–384a) which introduces its subject-matter mentions the of names no less than three times. They are thus forced to connect their interpretation in one way or another with this subtitle. for instance. whereas at least some of the second titles were already in existence before Thrasyllus. 41 40 . so that one may infer that Thrasyllus generalized the use of the second title.41 Whether or not discussion: 42 the subtitle actually goes back on Plato. as Mansfeld 1994: 71–74 argues. 44 We depend almost entirely on Cicero to reconstruct Antiochus’ thought. who systematically applied these double titles to the dialogues. Cicero had actually heard Antiochus teaching in 79 BCE in Athens. Whatsoever the origin of the subtitle may be. suggests that Cicero is writing with a Greek source or sources of some kind in front of him. it Àts the content of the dialogue very well. the majority of the Àrst titles probably derive from Plato himself. In Thrasyllus’ catalogue.

presents Antiochus’ position as the view of the ‘ancients’. physics. 2. who probably made much of the harmony between Plato and Aristotle. see esp. What is more. see Karamanolis 2006: 44–84.46 Xenocrates may have been another source of inÁuence on Antiochus. Therefore. Both schools were the lawful heirs to Plato’s philosophy. it sketches a view of names that resembles Alcinous’ interpretation of the dialogue. indeed.5 below). pp. 101. 47 On Xenocrates. on Antiochus of Ascalon. the last head of the Old Academy. Being a former pupil of Philo of Larissa. They had developed a body of doctrine that left nothing to be desired. This bit of information is all the more interesting since Antiochus holds a special position in the history of Platonism. see esp. Without explicit reference to the Cratylus. 98–99. on his Cratylean word-play. Therefore. Even so. On some issues they had departed from the true philosophy of the ancients. pp. it was only logical that Antiochus should turn to them for guidance. he eventually turned against his teacher and his Academy. see Dillon 2003: 89–155. He appears to have initiated the search for doctrines in Plato and the construction of a transparent system that would eventually result in the dogmatic Middle Platonism of Alcinous and his like by means of relating Plato’s dialogues to the philosophical systems of his successors. see further Dillon 1977: 52–106 and Barnes 1989. he embraced Stoic epistemology as a theory that does justice to Plato’s spirit. he advanced the claim that the Old Academy and the Peripatos were the same in all but name. . Antiochus seems to have been especially indebted to Polemon. he was the Àrst to develop the tripartite division of philosophy into ethics. on Xenocrates as the Àrst to distinguish the three branches of philosophy. Cicero.47 As for the Stoics. the Platonists and Peripatetics of old who brought Plato’s philosophy to perfection (the ‘they’ in T.45 More in particular. and logic that we have encountered in Alcinous.48 45 On Antiochus as the initiator of these developments. there is a possibility that Alcinous’ interpretation of the Cratylus as a logical dialogue on etymology ultimately dates back to the days of the Old Academy. He seems to have indulged in some word-play in the spirit of the Cratylus.44 chapter two interpretation of the Cratylus. Antiochus seems to have been for more critically disposed towards them. championing a return to what he perceived to be the dogmatism of the Old Academy. head of sceptical New Academy. 46 Dillon 1977: 57f. 48 Thus Karamanolis 2006: 57. and this will be of importance for what follows.

Antiochus may well have had a point. that is. As Varro explains in the text leading up to the passage quoted above. logic. cf. according to him. Antiochus believed that. Antiochus’ description of names and their dialectical function contains Platonic. I 32. 50 See pp. They also gave approval to the explication of words (verborum explicatio). and Stoic elements. quod Latine est nota”.the middle platonists 45 Let us now turn to the text itself. . we cannot have knowledge about sensible things. trans. 2. see Reid 1885: 139. these tokens are supposed to refer to affections in the soul. see Barnes 1989: 81–83 for a discussion. These are translations of the Greek μ . Perhaps he used the word to bring out that names are not the products of nature but of human imposition. and under this head was imparted their whole doctrine of Dialectic (dialecticae disciplina).51 The fact that Aristotle used this particular term to indicate that names are just a matter of convention does not seem to have bothered Antiochus at all. the statement of the reason why each class of things bears the name that it does—the subject termed by them μ . The key passage is Cicero Top. just opinion. if Sedley is right that this scheme is implicitly present in the Cratylus. Aristotelian. cf. 00 above. refers to the third part.50 This is what. that is speech cast in the form of logical argument (Cicero Acad. Ruch 1970: 139. II 19. by its Platonic name ‘dialectic’ (dialecticae disciplina). 37–38. even though he adheres to the PlatonicStoic idea that names follow the nature of things.49 Varro. Also in line with Aristotle’s semantic theory. the joined chorus of old Academics and Peripatetics had to say on the subject: T. just as Alcinous does. like so many other things. Rackham modiÀed). as guides for arriving at proofs or conclusions as to anything of which they desired an explanation. because these are either imperceptible or constantly changing. 51 For ‘argumentum’ and ‘nota’ as translations of μ . n. Knowledge is only possible of the 49 Cicero Acad. it was Plato himself who had invented the threefold scheme of philosophy. and then they used these as ‘tokens’ (argumentis) or so to say marks of things (quasi rerum notis). Varro describes words as argumenta (tokens) and notae (marks).5 Knowledge on the other hand they deemed to exist nowhere except in the notions and reasonings of the mind (in animi notionibus atque rationibus). And for that reason (qua de causa) they approved the method of deÀning things (deÀnitiones rerum) and applied these deÀnitions to all the things that they discussed. 35: “Itaque hoc idem Aristoteles μ appellat. the spokesman for Antiochus in the dialogue.

however few the references to the Cratylus. 125)54 stands out among the Middle Platonists for the impressive quantity of his surviving writings. Karamanolis 2006: 62–63. 55 The index of Plutarch’s quotations compiled by Helmbold and O’Neil (1959) lists only 14 places in Plutarch that recall passages from the Cratylus. because words are informative of the nature of the things to which they refer. see Dillon 1977: 185f. Varro presents etymology as a part of dialectic. Plutarch makes for an interesting paragraph in the history of the reception of that dialogue. II 30. less Platonic is that these Forms turn out to be general concepts constructed from sense-perceptions (i. Antiochus availed himself of etymology in the manner of the Stoics in order to get his philosophical investigations under way. ‘the notions and reasonings of the mind’). and hence the Forms.55 Yet. consider the Forms as transcendent entities.52 Apparently. according to the Stoics. and that they allow us access to the wisdom of the ancients who coined them. it is immediately clear that Plutarch for all his love for learning had little interest in the Cratylus.46 chapter two Forms. 53 On Alcinous’ interpretation of the Forms as concepts. he appears to be especially interested in 52 Cf. Ànally. But what is more. Plutarch of Chaeroneia. Plutarch of Chaeroneia: the Cratylus as a theological dialogue Plutarch of Athens (c. since there can be only knowledge of what is eternally stable. Antiochus did not. rather than metaphysical entities. The compilers missed some other references. Other passages indicate that Antiochus or equated these notions. In line with his intellectual environment he assumes that names follow nature. Görler 2004: 94–97. the preconcepts that. though. Àve of which appear to have no direct bearing on the dialogue (the four places bracketed by HelmboldO’Neil themselves as well as Plutarch 617d. This is all very Platonic. 409d). Against Plato’s explicit warning no to. 45–c.53 Like Alcinous.e. The far-reaching consequences of the adoption of Stoic etymology for the way in which Platonists understood the Cratylus becomes especially evident in the case of our next author. when we turn to his oeuvre. coincide with the meaning of words. Antiochus thus apparently assumed that words are natural in the way outlined by Origen and Alcinous. see Dillon 1977: 92–93. De Fin. which does not refer to Plato Crat. discussed by Karamanolis 2006: 64–65. cf. V 59. All the same. 54 For Plutarch’s dates. . Cicero Acad. 5. or at least not primarily. with Stoic . cf.

In keeping with this. In this treatise addressed to a certain Clea. 19–22).6 . 1. for example. Conv. 715a Plutarch cites this etymology. . Plutarch was a deeply religious man. 351e). Plutarch writes: T. her opponent Typhon. Crat. Plato himself believes that he discovers the powers of the gods by using their names as clues . Etymologizing was a popular game at symposia. 406c2–3. In the context of a discussion about the exact whereabouts of the Muses in the ninth book of Table-Talk (Quaest. Yet. 2. A man with such a mind-set was inevitably drawn to the etymologies of divine names in the Cratylus. whereas that she only should be located the heavens ( the other eight Muses must be supposed to dwell on earth instead.57 It is certainly no coincidence that in Quaest. Conv. The μ 56 μ 57 . who took his ofÀce as priest of Apollo at the god’s illustrious temple at Delphi very seriously. (Quaest. Plutarch discusses and interprets the myths and rituals concerning the goddess. a follower of Isis. . as appears from his On Isis and Osiris (De Is. 14. he argues ). 9. Socrates probably had such a game in mind when (wine) by assuring he introduced his explanation of the word Hermogenes that “nothing needs to stop us from going through playful etymologies as well. at the same time this remark also implies that not all etymologies were put forward in jest. .).). 2. . which will eventually Ànd its spectacular culmination in Proclus’ commentary on the dialogue. He holds that the acquisition of sacred lore constitutes a holier task than all ceremonial puriÀcation (c. a symposium. 351e–352a). throws an interesting light on the Sitz im Leben of many etymologies.the middle platonists 47 the proper names of gods as a source of theological wisdom and is thus one of the Àrst witnesses of a theological approach to the Cratylus.56 On the basis of the name of the Muse . Plutarch took the idea of meaningful names seriously. and that of her sanctuary. because even the gods love to play”. Conv. 2. the work that contains one third of all the references to the Cratylus in Plutarch. 746b). . The setting of the work. the Iseion (c. as did Athenaeus (around 200 ce) in his version of such a party (Deipnosophistae 2. The Àrst thing that he does to that extent is to offer etymologies of the names of Isis.

they all express the same religious concepts. 67. 352c. may be different. whenever he hears the traditional view of what is displayed and done with regard to these ) and philosophizes gods examines and investigates rationally ( what truth there may be within. earth and sea are common to all. But just as the sun. he writes. which Plutarch believes to be Greek.g.”58 Plutarch assumes that the names of the gods are meaningful. this and other trans. “The true devotee of Isis”. e. though they are given various names by various peoples. moon. Crat. 2. 3. the divine names. Plato was not the Àrst to make this suggestion. 2. so it is with the one logos which orders these things and the one providence which has charge of them. Plutarch’s observation that many divine names contain a logos recalls Socrates’ remark (Crat. c.e. . be surprised to Ànd that the religious customs of the various nations even though they differ refer to the same theological reality: T. Even though the ‘modes of address’. after GrifÀths 1970. . Among the Egyptians many other names contain a logos. i. who. Herodotus Histories. . . It can already be found in. The Greek name for the god of the nether-world includes the same unexpectedly positive associations: T. 396a) that the names of Zeus constitute a logos that describes the nature of that god. (De Is. c. 362d). is associated with (because of the root * -) and . 403e for the pun on / ). One should not. 389d–390a) that Greek and barbaric names may be equally correct. This interesting passage recalls Socrates’ thesis (Crat. .. “is he. which are themselves a product of the intellectual climate of the late Àfth 58 De Is. Plutarch continues. 29. (De Is. . and the assistant powers which are assigned to everything: they are given different honors and modes of address among different peoples according to custom ( μ μ ) . 377f–378a).7 For Plato says that Hades has been called by his associates a rich and friendly god (cf. heaven.48 name chapter two . of De Is.μ : Isis is a truly wise goddess and a philosopher.. c. He explains that in the Egyptian language the name of Sarapis is associated with the word that denotes joy and gladness.8 nor do we regard the gods as different among different peoples nor as barbarians and Greek and as southern and northern.

not that they necessarily are. see pp. The mode of interpretation that Plutarch here describes. for Plutarch cf. c. Osiris does not just represent the Nile but the humid element in general. For parallels between Plutarch and Cornutus. He introduces this new line of interpretation as follows: T. 62 De Is.61 Since myths are supposed to contain universal wisdom. Hera as air ( ). 60 On Cornutus.8 above.the middle platonists 49 century bce. Both assume that ancient mythology contains some sort of primitive philosophy of nature. Plutarch hastens to point out that according to more senior Egyptian priests. . they both assume that the myths of the various nations all testify of one universal wisdom. he turns to a more philosophical type of interpretation of the material in which etymologies appear to play an important role. the Middle Platonists trusted etymologies because they believed that the Àrst name-givers had grasped the nature of things. see Burkert 1985. 364a. 35–36 above. However. we may assume that the concepts expressed in all languages are identical. 2. 2. and the birth of Hephaistos as the change of air into Àre. just as the Greeks explain Kronos allegorically as time ( ). cf. the rest of humanity would be robbed of such great gods like Isis and Osiris. 33. so among the Egyptians Osiris is the Nile . Etymologies of divine names in particular provide access to this ancient wisdom. is that of the Stoic Cornutus. Plutarch next peruses the various interpretations of the myth of Isis and Osiris. 66: if this myth would only apply to Egypt. Disappointed by the more literal ones. cf. c. 12–21. 363d). . 59 . (De Is. If this goes for all name-givers of all nations. These are the people who say that. 28 p.62 Plutarch thus recognizes in the anonymous Egyptian sage who composed the myth and the divine names of Isis and Osiris a distant colleague of Plato On Herodotus on divine names. Thomas 2000: 274–284. 61 Cornutus c. and Socrates gives no reason why we should assume that all name-givers of all nations held the same opinions. T. the one that he himself favors. as we have seen. Names express after all just the opinions of the name-givers.59 It should be noted that Socrates only says that Greek and barbaric names may be equally correct. Van den Berg 2006.60 Moreover. 54.9 Let us Àrst examine the most lucid of those who claim to have something more philosophical to say from another standpoint. 32. Boys-Stones 2001: 108–113. c. which is inconceivable.

just as again the evil which hinders. the humid element. of course.g. he seems completely at sea about one of the central messages of the Cratylus. 60 in which Plutarch appeals to the etymologies from the Cratylus in order to corroborate his interpretation of Isis. Froidefond explains: “ / from Plutarch perhaps have Crat. 5 to p. “is the better god.10 For the name is not barbaric. 397d4). It is our best testimony for Plutarch as a reader of the Cratylus and therefore deserves to be quoted in full.50 chapter two and Aristotle: Osiris. c. to those things that Áow easily and rush ( ).(trouble) (cf. An example is his claim that Plato says that the ancients clariÀed by calling it . GrifÀths 1970: 215. He identiÀes Isis with the good. a word that does not exist in Greek. trust in his memory. where Socrates derives rather than Crat. and Isis by the Egyptians. Plato Crat. 421b in mind. animate and intelligent movement that is the creative and conserving element of nature and he derives De Is. because of her understanding and movement ( μ μ ). is abused by the opposite names when people call it . 2. μ . Working at great speed and putting much. so this goddess. binds and checks nature. Froidefond 1988: 307 = — : ‘direction’ (?)”. Babbitt 1936: 143 note d. μ Plutarch is notorious for his imprecise references. 415a–415e) (De Is. Does additional n. preventing its striving and moving. he often goes astray. See.63 This remark introduces c. from . 401c in mind where Plato explains . as well as (virtue). Note that Plutarch assumes that in the Cratylus Plato undertakes a project comparable to his own enterprise. is called Isis by us.(cowardice) and . c. 411d–412c).64 is not the same as But things are even worse. Plato Crat. in that it is the impetus and movement of a mind which is striving and hastening ( ) and also intelligence and the good in general (cf. if not too much. 60.(helplesness) or . which. 401c? 64 63 . 375c.(evil). Plutarch is not just very sloppy. the retrieval of the views of the ancients by means of etymology: T. Thus Plato also says that the ancients clariÀed by calling it (cf. Plato Crat. 401c or 421b). . 231. Crat. e. 60. but just as all gods ( ) have a common name derived from “what is seen” ( ) and “what rushes” ( cf. as both Plato and Aristotle conceive”. 375c–d). thus one assigns thought and insight. All commentators agree that Plutarch has Crat..

the middle platonists 51 her name from ‘moving with understanding’ (Plutarch De Is. Philo of Alexandria 6.e. that One wonders where this leaves all the other etymologies that associate thinking. He thus undermines the etymology that μ with movement and indeed suggests the opposite. his upbringing had been Greek to such a degree that he was unable to read the Pentateuch in Hebrew and had to rely on the Greek Septuagint translation. A Jew by birth. 375c: μ μ μ . Given that he ridicules Cratylus’ Heraclitean worldview by calling it ‘a world of dripping noses’ (Crat. By the same token. His was. Plutarch. . 6. 437a). associates μ makes the movements of the soul stop (Crat. though interesting.65 This particular background and upbringing produced a pious Jew who was in love with Greek culture. Such was the spell of the Stoic theory of etymology that he failed to notice the general message of the Cratylus that we should investigate the things themselves rather than their names. case in the history of the reception of the Cratylus. is associated with movement. Plato later on in the dialogue questions the correctness of these etymologies that assume a Heraclitean worldview. and especially with Greek philosophy. was drawn to the etymological section of the Cratylus. i. probably not. μ μ ). 440d1).1 Philo’s use of etymology Philo of Alexandria (born c. He combined his religious zeal with his intellectual interests by setting himself the task to show that the Pentateuch was not 65 On Philo’s education. it seems unlikely that in the end Plato really wants us to accept the exegetical and philosophical correctness of those etymologies that suggest that good things are subjected to movement. In short. Plutarch then lists a series of etymologies borrowed from Crat. by no means an unique case among the Middle Platonists. 20–15 bce) presents a special. However. 411d–412c that show that intelligence etc. see Runia 1986: 32–37 (Chapter three: The Historical and Cultural Setting). intelligence and so forth with movement. under the influence of the Stoic theory of etymology and primitive wisdom. whereas bad things are associated with stagnation and standstill. as we have seen.

took the Stoic idea of etymology seriously. 67 Philo uses the actual term μ . like Alcinous and Antiochus. 411e).52 chapter two as primitive as it might appear to be to a cultured man by writing many voluminous commentaries. provided that they express the same thing. he has clearly taken note of the Cratylus and its contemporary interpretation.. especially of those of the Middle Platonists. see Long 1997. Philo’s works thus provide a rich source of contemporary philosophical ideas.. etymologies from the Cratylus itself. If Moses’ teachings resemble those of Plato. had to be an even greater one. is not unproblematic since Philo works on the basis of the Greek Septuagint. not the Hebrew Pentateuch. 2.66 This appears Àrst of all from his method and his justiÀcation of it. Even though Philo does not explicitly refer to Plato in general nor to the Cratylus in particular. Philo. Spec. e. the alleged author of the Pentateuch. albeit sparingly. 389d–390a) that barbaric and Greek names may be equally correct. was he ultimate wise man who dwarfed Greek philosophers like Plato. In fact. they rendered each Hebrew word with its precise Greek equivalent to the result that someone who knows both Greek and Hebrew considers the two translations “as sisters. Because of this. Philo feels justiÀed in doing so. 68 Philo only rarely offers etymologies of Hebrew names. 14 (Crat. it is because the latter depended on the former and if everybody agreed that Plato was an intellectual giant. Moses. e. Dillon 1978. Lamberton 1986: 45–6. it is an important tool in his efforts to interpret the Pentateuch philosophically. This supposed equivalence of languages strongly recalls Socrates’ claim (Crat.68 Yet. or rather one and the same.g. 410d) and Virt. He borrows. 4. On the (lack of) inÁuence of Stoic hermeneutics on Philo. see. 39–40). Plant. As we noted. see Boyancé 1975. and his etymologies are with a few exceptions etymologies of Greek words. .67 This use of etymology. Allegorical interpretations yield what one puts into it and consequently Philo’s Moses appears as Middle Platonist. since he believes that the translators of the Septuagint were guided by divine inspiration. This was no cause for concern to Philo. 235 (Crat. By means of the well-tried Stoic method of allegorization and etymologizing he attempted to show that Moses. by the same token. both in matter and words” (Philo Mos. 69 Winston 1991: 118. see. on which see Winston 1991: 119–120. 165. Winston 1991.g. however.69 66 For possible relations between Philo’s writings and the Cratylus.

12 Why does (God) bring all the animals to the man that he may give names to them? Scripture has cleared up the great perplexity of those who are lovers of wisdom by showing that names exist by being given and not by nature. Your Majesty.2 Philo on Adam as a name-giver In keeping with his Hellenistic environment.11 God. He stresses that the religious ideas of the Jews do not differ signiÀcantly from those of the Greeks: T. Or rather. The Middle Platonic interpretation of the Cratylus is used to legitimize the attempts of hellenized Jews to bring their own ancestral tradition in line with that of the Greeks. Especially the story of how Adam names all the creatures (Gen. refer in fact to a shared understanding of the world. The etymologies of the name of Zeus recall the Cratylus (395e–396a). 6.the middle platonists 53 Interestingly. 2:19) provided a commentator on the Pentateuch with a good opportunity to do so. Both Jews and Greeks thus share the same conception of God as the ultimate cause of the universe and lord of all. Marcus). who pretends not to be a Jew. the same idea is also expressed by ps. 2. and we too. even though they refer to him by different names. is He whom all men worship. describes how he pleaded the case of the oppressed Jews with king Ptolemy at the time of the translation of the Septuagint. whom they worship. Ps. no matter how different they may seem. but probably was. 20. Hadas). by these names men of old not unsuitably signiÀed that He through whom all creatures receive life and ( ) come into being is the guide and lord of all” (Aristeae Epistula 16. 2. Philo reÁects on the origin of language. they recall the Middle Platonic interpretation of the Cratylus according to which the myths and divine names of the various nations.-Aristeas. trans. since each is an apt and naturally suitable name through the skilful calculation of a wise man who is pre-eminent in knowledge (Philo QG 1. Philo welcomes the story as evidence of the superiority of the Scripture over Greek philosophical thought: T. though we address Him differently.-Aristeas in his letter to Philocrates about the origin of the Septuagint translation. Philo appears to be of the same mind as Alcinous and Antiochus: names are a matter of imposition according to the nature of the thing . trans. as Zeus and as Dis. the overseer and creator of all things.

trans.70 The activity of properly naming can therefore not be the work of just anyone. If one believes that these are Platonic Forms. as some Neoplatonists had. 139–146. for right well did he divine the character of the creatures he was describing. If one believes. it seems logical that the divine is a superior name-giver since it has a better access to the Forms. will later deduce that language must be prior to human invention. .73 As we shall see in the case of the Neoplatonists. It is worth observing that the story in Genesis does not necessarily imply this. 150.” (trans. One would love to know what Greek terminology Philo is using here. Philo here gives a justiÀcation 70 Unfortunately. 71 As Allan 1948: 39 observes. 2. .13 For the native reasoning power in the soul (sc. the founder of the human race . on the other hand. and the titles he gave were fully apposite. Colson and Whitaker). .54 chapter two being named. Philo assumes that names refer to concepts that are the product of sense-perception. This person is Adam. it becomes less likely that an immaterial being like God has anything to do with it. the question whether the divine is an exemplary name-giver or not depends on what one believes to be the objects of names. . the text has only been preserved in an Armenian version of the Greek. 64: “.72 In later times. Alexandrian Neoplatonists too will stress that names and language are particularly human and that the gods have nothing to do with these. not a matter of divine revelation. with Aristotle. stresses elsewhere that names and language are something characteristic of human beings and therefore beneath the dignity of God. Philo follows the Aristotelian line. 72 Philo Mut. . and no inÀrmity or disease or evil affection having intruded itself. . 73 See pp. From the phrase ‘God said’. for which see Van den Berg 2006. some Christian authors like Eunomius and Lactantius. Colson-Whitaker). but requires a skilled person. as appears from his discussion of Adam’s extraordinary qualities as a name-giver: T. that names depend on the affections of material objects on the soul by means of sense-perception. Like Aristotle and Antiochus. Names are thus the product a human invention. Origen holds a comparable position. .71 Philo. which occurs before the naming episode. contrary to Neoplatonists such as Proclus who claim that human name-givers follow a divine example. with the result that their natures were apprehended as soon as their names were uttered (Philo Opif. he received the impressions made by bodies and by objects in their sheer reality. God did not think Àt to assign names . but committed the task to a man of wisdom. of Adam) being still unalloyed.

Secondly. Boys-Stones 2001: 90–95 and Sluiter 1990: 18–20. see.77 This theory of one perfect or near perfect primordial language sets Philo apart from his intellectual surroundings. had a better understanding of the world than we moderns have. though. Dillon 1978: 40ff. according to Socrates ‘the rarest of craftsmen’.75 Nothing good lasts forever. Winston 1991: 118–119. and the episode of the tower of Babel marked the end of the selfexplicatory. elaborate etymologies are necessary to bring out what words actually mean. Philo calls him ‘a wise man. there is the idea that correctly given names are by nature descriptive of their objects. some doing a better job than others. there is the special status of the name-giver. two other aspects recall the Cratylus. So he shares the assumption that underlies contemporary Stoic allegorical and etymological practice. because of his unalloyed state. 28 points out Philo seems to have been unwilling to take the Babel story literally. something which. although names are supposed to be instruments of instruction. mentioned earlier (§ 2).74 If the idea that names depend on sensory impulses on the soul of material things is Aristotelian in nature. Aristotle rejects as a necessary requirement for names. some more successful than others in their attempts to encapsulate the essence of things in their names. superior wisdom. perfect language. as we have seen.76 It opened the way for other less perfect languages. Compare this to the situation in the Cratylus.g. 34–36. 78 About this perfect primordial language. 75 For Epicurean criticism on the concept of a primal name-giver and other arguments that Philo employs against it. 77 Cf. on Philo and his adoption of the Stoic idea of primal.the middle platonists 55 for this assumption: primitive man. Philo probably insists on the self-explanatory character of names in order to counter the Epicurean criticism of Platonic and Stoic theories of an authoritative name-giver. e. He claims that Adam’s names were so apt that the natures of the things named were apprehended as soon as their names were uttered. 76 As Winston 1991: 119 n. see Winston 1991: 109–112. where.. He does not say by whom they were apprehended. but from QG I 20 we learn that these names Àtted their objects so perfectly well that even an animal when it heard the name that Adam had given it “was affected as if by the phenomenon of a familiar and related name being spoken”. pushes things further than Plato had done.78 There is no such theory to On the Stoa. First. however. comments that Philo’s story of such a language is an attempt to press the theory expounded in the Cratylus 74 . see pp. who is pre-eminent in knowledge’. crafted by people working along the lines of Adam. Philo.

likewise it does not matter whether one executes the form of a word in one set of sounds or another (Crat. on this passage cf.. II 581 ed. . he takes Chrysippus to task for calling on poets like Homer and etymology. De Lacy. they are far less successful in imitating nature. you will always be scornful of names ( μ μ ) and will pursue Àrst and foremost the knowledge of things ( μ μ ). 2. he says.. 389d4–390a3). Yet. 4). he remains a special case. Tieleman 1996: 16–17. 5–7 ed.80 μ Etymology. Marcus 1953: 12). Philo assumes that all languages in existence. Throughout his œuvre Galen appears extremely critical of Stoic etymology. Since they are so much unlike nature. since one piece of iron is pretty much the same as any other. for “it would have been vain and foolish to leave them without names or to accept to accept names from some other younger man to the disgrace and degradation of the honor and glory of the older man” (trans.g. that we should study the things themselves instead of their names. Dillon argues. words should deviate in no more than minor details. provides an exception to that rule: T. Philo QG 1. admirer of Plato. As we have discussed (see p. e.79 It may serve as a reminder that. i. Kühn). for the analogy to hold. the Àrst man. administr. including Biblical Hebrew. gives the creatures their names. a great. In On the Doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato. for example.56 chapter two be found in pagan Antiquity. if not uncritical. Hankinson 1994: 17–171. The real message of the Cratylus. you will strive for clarity ( ). Being a medical professional. however much Philo may have borrowed from contemporary philosophical discussions. 80 Galen PHP II 2. 7. it is merely an impostor ( μ ). 200 ce). they are also much unlike each other. Galen: a dissident voice The picture that emerges from this chapter is that in the Imperial period it was generally assumed that Plato in the Cratylus had practiced Stoic etymology.14 If you are persuaded by me and Plato. 79 Cf. when you instruct another. was evidently lost on most of Plato’s readers. which you see Plato and me taking pains to achieve to the best of our ability (De anatom. Obviously this is because Genesis makes Adam the Àrst man. are imperfect in comparison to Adam’s language. Socrates in the Cratylus had argued that just as it does not matter whether a blacksmith executes the form of a drill one piece of iron or in another. It testiÀes both for those who speak the truth and those to its logical conclusion. The physician Galen (129–c. and then. 20: Adam. he was not overly impressed by the primitive wisdom regarding the body and its functions to which the Stoa appealed.e.

the middle platonists 57 who speak falsehoods.82 Correctness of names for Galen exists in clarity. For a full demonstration that etymology has no place in scientiÀc discourse he refers to a now lost work of his. Galen. had argued that the sole virtue of language is clarity. 83 On Galen on the correctness of names. as is proved by the fact that speech which fails to convey a plain meaning will fail to do just what speech has to do.15 However. III 2. trans.84 In Hellenistic times this demand for clarity was adopted by Stoics and On the subtitle of the Cratylus. ordinary language is the norm both in ordinary as well as in philosophical discourse. On the Correctness of Names ( Intriguingly. 84 See. Since clarity is best served when we stick as much as possible to the ordinary. this is also the subtitle of Plato’s Cratylus. like Plato. like Socrates in the Cratylus. e. see p. Aristotle. A student of Hippocrates should thus try to uncover how a word was understood and used in Hippocrates’ own time. see further Mansfeld 1994: 25ff. Hankinson 1994: 172).81 This is not to say that Galen has no use for etymology whatsoever. any name will do the job. Galen does not assume that those ancient opinions are necessarily better than contemporary ones. If one proceeds like this. on the assumption that the sole purpose of language is communication. 2. This insistence on clarity as the virtue of language is Aristotelian. see Hankinson 1994: 171–180. Galen considers names as instruments of instruction: T. As observes Daniela Manetti. 1404b1ff. and will have clarity as his aim in their usage. entitled μ μ ).g.: “the virtue of speech is to be clear. instead of assuming too rashly that it means the same as in contemporary Greek. see Manetti 2003: 202–215.. 207. On Galen’s use of etymology. anyone who wishes to teach another what he knows will need at any rate to use some names for things. A word still in use among contemporary doctors may have acquired a meaning that differs from the one it had for Hippocrates and his circle.” On this topic. rather than Platonic. Aristotle Rhet. for an explicit comparison to the Cratylus.2 above. The best teacher’s concern will be to assign names in such a way that the patient can learn in the clearest possible way (Galen MM X 81.83 We achieve this clarity by consistently applying a name to similar types of things. conventional meaning of words. see § 3. since. Clarity is of the utmost importance. 82 81 . assumes that the analysis of names shows you the opinions of the name-givers. His point is rather that different groups of language-users may understand a given word differently.

In the case of the evaluation of Epicurus’ here means ‘proper’ instead of ‘ordinary’.. e. it has appeared. because they have a concept of what a hawk is. he does not heed his warning that the way in which language divides reality may not be the correct one. a point of view with which a grammarian might wish to disagree. capable of expressing the outcome of scientiÀc research. now lost. However. . On Rhetoric. 88 See pp.86 Galen assumes that ordinary language is.58 chapter two Epicureans alike. So. since style it has been argued that Diogenes Laertius continues by adding that the grammarian Aristophanes accused Epicurus of having a very personal style because of this.g. e. Meth. for example. These tendencies. were shaped by philosophical developments in the Hellenistic and post-Hellenistic 85 As reports Diogenes Laertius X 13–14. However. X 71. 86 See.88 In the next chapter we shall see that Neoplatonists such as Porphyry too insist for much the same reasons. while Galen explicitly on follows Plato in rejecting etymology as a means of doing philosophy. as observes Sluiter 1995: 526–527. instinctively Áee hawks. this comment misses the point: on the Aristotelean view supported by Epicurus ordinary language is the standard for proper language. scientiÀc research into the essence of things reveals the reasons why the classes divide in the way they do. Med. was said to have used ) for things and to have the ordinary terms ( insisted on clarity in his. Such concepts inform our names. on Galen on clarity. 87 Thus Hankinson 1994: 181–187. . see Sluiter 1995. “expressing oneself in accordance by the technical term with ordinary Greek usage”.87 This approach is. in principle at least. Conclusions Even though it would be wrong to speak of the Middle Platonic interpretation of the Cratylus—there existed after all no authority to determine the orthodoxy—it seems safe to talk about certain general tendencies in Middle Platonic approaches to the Cratylus and its issue.g. Chickens. Epicurus himself. 8. Language offers us a rough classiÀcation of reality. Language thus mirrors nature. and related issues from a grammatical and a rhetorical point of view. he is conÀdent that by nature living beings are able to acquire reliable concepts of reality by means of senses and intellect.. Like Aristotle. of course.85 Galen here refers to it . those natural concepts do not necessarily reveal the essence of a thing. 24–28 above. the nature of names. the one that Aristotle proposes in the Posterior Analytics.

names refer not to Platonic Forms. such as the interpretation of the Cratylus as a logical dialogue and the association of the Cratylus with etymology. Thus. be it that they follow the nature of things. some elements of the Middle Platonic reading. and hence the Cratylus was interpreted as a logical dialogue. Whereas Plato in the Cratylus with the Stoic method of had intended the Cratylus. Finally. as far as our sources permit us to tell. Since dialectic does the same thing. In order to bring this out. the study of these names could teach one something about the nature of things. but to its essential quality that makes it different from all other things. so seriously in fact. Even so. a term borrowed from Aristotle’s semantic are often called μ theory that underlines the artiÀciality of names. but to the concepts of material things that we have acquired through the senses. as a warning against putting too much trust in the analyses of names as a source of wisdom. These etymologies do not just point to a quality of the thing under discussion. The same approach led Platonists to associate the analyses of names μ . 89 Yet it should be added that this observation derives from relatively early Middle Platonists whose interest in the theory of Forms was limited anyway. they . it are the product of nature or human imposition ( was deduced from the Cratylus. taught that names are by imposition. and that therefore we should be careful in applying it to later Middle Platonists. at least in part. . in particular the association of the Cratylus with Aristotle’s semantic theory.the middle platonists 59 period. that the Socratic irony that pervades much of this section was lost on them.89 In the next chapter we shall see that the increasing careful study of both Aristotle and Plato will prompt philosophers like Plotinus and Proclus to question some results of this approach. One notable result is that the Middle Platonists tended to associate the Cratylus with the typical Hellenistic issue of the origin of language. all the more so since the Middle Platonists read Plato’s dialogues in conjunction with Hellenistic and Peripatetic philosophy in order to get Platonic doctrines out of Plato’s dialogues. etymologizing is part of doing dialectic. Plato. the Middle Platonists agreed with the Stoics that since primitive man had enjoyed an unusually deep insight in the nature of things and since he had embodied these insights in the names of things. will be maintained throughout Antiquity. the question whether names ). they took what they perceived of as the etymological section of the Cratylus seriously.


CHAPTER THREE PORPHYRY’S ARISTOTELIAN SEMANTIC THEORY AND PROCLUS’ PLATONIC CRITICISM OF IT 1.1 Some Platonists. depends on the more general question how they understand the relation between Plato and Aristotle. and even whether they read it at all. From this. adopts a Platonic semantic theory such as we Ànd it in the Cratylus. that all Platonists assumed that all of Aristotle was compatible with Plato. We shall see that Plotinus. 1 As remarks Karamanolis 2006: 21. even maintained that Plato and Aristotle were incompatible. Introduction In the previous chapter we have seen that many Middle Platonists such as Antiochus and Alcinous assumed. however. this was bound to come out. whereas Porphyry. it appeared. it should not be concluded. . whereas Aristotle denies the very existence of these. either implicitly or explicitly. when his former pupil and in many respects most formidable opponent Iamblichus included the Cratylus into a list of dialogues that every aspiring Platonist was supposed to have studied. postulates the existence of intelligible Forms. One’s degree of appreciation of Aristotle depended largely on what one believed Plato’s actual doctrine to be. inÁuenced their ideas about names and language as well as their interpretation of the Cratylus. agreed on many issues. who believes in the harmony between Plato and Aristotle. This general assumption. such as Nicostratus and Atticus. In this chapter we shall see that the views on names and language of the various Neoplatonists. after all. who is critical of Aristotle. the way in which they read the Cratylus. that Plato. Plato. The discussion about the relation between Plato and Aristotle was continued by the Neoplatonists. Yet. develops a highly inÁuential semantic theory based on his study of Aristotle’s Categories. Porphyry does not seem to have lost much time on reading the Cratylus and he may have failed to notice that it sits ill with his Aristotelian semantic theory. Aristotle and even the Stoics.

stimulated further systematic study of the Cratylus and the Platonic semantic theory it contains then had hitherto been the case. I shall focus on an important passage from the Commentary on the Parmenides that seems especially designed to refute Porphyry as well as one from the Commentary on the Alcibiades that claims an even greater authority for the Platonic theory than Plato. however. but concentrates on logos instead.2 Yet when one puts his relevant remarks together. Plotinus: naming Being Plotinus nowhere offers a systematic discussion of his views on the relation between language and reality and doing philosophy. Plotinus brings up this etymology in corroboration of his claim that intelligible Being proceeds from the One: 2 For a systematic discussion of Plotinus’ obiter dicta on language. by his inclusion of the Cratylus in the curriculum. In this chapter. the subject of the three subsequent chapters. especially in his treatise about the Categories. Aristotle’s discussion of classes of names. .e. V 5 [32] 5. us Àrst take a look at his discussion of the etymology of intelligible Being) in Enn. that Àts well with his way of doing philosophy. as we shall see. 3 For the Categories as Aristotle’s discussion of classes of names. That the latter had a keen eye for the problems with Porphyry’s semantic theory from a Platonist point of view appears not just from that particular commentary. it emerges that he holds a typically Platonic semantic theory. Iamblichus. but he appears to have tried to combine Porphyry’s semantic theory with Plato’s.3 Since Porphyry’s Commentary on the Categories is our most important source for his ideas about language. 2. no one less than the divine Pythagoras himself. see De Rijk 2002: 133–134. inspired by the Cratylus. but also from his other writings.62 chapter three We know unfortunately little of how Iamblichus understood the Cratylus. let (i. Before turning to Plotinus’ discussion of the Categories. the present discussion will thus facilitate comparison between the two positions. eventually culminating in Proclus’ commentary. In this paragraph I shall especially concentrate on what he has to say about naming (intelligible) Being. see Heiser 1991. who has little to say about Plotinus’ views on the Cratylus or on names and naming.

e. 9–12. Mackenna’s translation and the note by Harder-Beutler-Theiler to their translation.1 And if someone says that this word [being]—which is the name that signiÀes [being]—has been derived from the word [one] he might have hit on the truth. . according to Proclus. Proclus In Crat. their apparatus ad loc. In the same way that which came to exist. V 1 [10] 4. maior ad loc. Duke et al. The name is supposed to bring out the satiety. the fullness of ).. 5 This is a very free adaptation of Armstrong’s translation of this very difÀcult text: “interpretes intellegunt alii aliter” (Henry-Schwyzer ed. imitating what it saw (μ μ μ ).—imitating ( μ μ μ real being (Plotinus Enn. proclus 63 T. while pressing on the pronouncement of it:4 in that case (the sound) is produced which manifests the origin from the One ( ) while at the same time this uttered sound signiÀes being ( ). and .6 4 I. i. but turned inward and took its stand [ ] there. 24 ff. intellect ( in the sense of ‘child’. III 8 [30] 11.). clearly assumes that Plato gives three interpretations of the name in the name ( μ ): of the element μ . The latter interpretation. Several elements in this text evoke the Cratylus. see Enn. Plotinus’ is related to recalls the etymology of speculation that the name of the goddess Hestia in Crat. after Armstrong5). However this may be. trans. 7. 401c4–9. This suggests that we should rather read meaning of < μ > . so to speak. 396b5–6 only mentions from (satiety) is a Stoic etymology. 6 Plotinus derives the name from (satiety). RvdB). 38–39.g. 56. as best it can. Proclus clearly as ‘satiety’. however. For an alternative interpretation of this text. see Ferwerda 1982. 33–36 (discussed by Atkinson 1983: 78–79 and 177–179. Plotinus thus appears not to have been a very careful reader of the etymologies of the Cratylus.). He assumes that 9–12) Plato Crat. as far as they are able. CVII the derivation of p. has an image of the One since it Áows from its power. III 8 [30] 11. however.. However. According to Atkinson 1983: 78–79 (commenting on Enn. but did not wish to go still further. ‘child’. For this which we call primary proceeded. Imagine someone pronouncing the (the word . see. contra Ferwerda 1982: 45 n. V 5 [32] 5. and ‘pure’. . that in general Plotinus shows little interest in the etymologies from the Cratylus. is adopted by Plotinus interpretation of in Enn. the generation of soul. e. and became Being [ ] and the hearth [ ] of all things. 5. ‘satiety’ is the Àrst ( ) to be offered and rejected. 38–39 (discussed by Hadot 1981). in their OCT edition thus add μ . and the [soul] which sees it and is moved to speech by the sight. as he does the indicates that Socrates rejects the interpretation of as child. First of all. too. It should be noted. V 1 [10] 4. ‘satiety’. pronouncing it with a spiritus asper. with the notable exception of that of the name . < μ >.porphyry vs. 3. cried out and and and . 14–28. reading: (cf. a little way from the One. For these sounds intend to signify the real nature—the cry being the product of the travail of the ).e.

intelligible to T. correctly established names refer Àrst and foremost to the unchanging Forms. Thirdly. Enn. we shall be using that name ‘analogously and homonymously’ (i. trans. If we next use the name of being for something in the sensible realm. 23: Enn. since people also thought that becoming was substance. According . the as ‘always being’ is at deÀnition contained in the etymology of best a tautology and potentially harmful. it was necessary to add ‘always’. the names of being refer to primary Being. μ μ . Plotinus explains why eternity all the same: is called T. in order to learn ( μ ) what being is (Enn. 6: . according to the Cratylus. Plotinus has just explained that eternity is as the life of intelligible Being. the name is not used in the same sense). III 7 [45] 6. which he etymologizes when he discusses the name of 7 (always) (being). precisely as Plotinus does here. since names are supposed to bring out the nature of the things to which they refer. explains. 3.9 This last point brings us 7 8 9 Cf. VI 3 [44] 1. In that case. It exists in eternity. III 7 [45] 4. according to the Cratylus names may be used as instruments of philosophical instruction. Enn. Plotinus appears to subscribe to this idea.e. rather than to their participants in the realm of Áux. Armstrong adapted). . not just anybody can be a true name-giver. people do not use ‘always’ ‘in its strict sense’. Plotinus assumes that the names for intelligible Being were coined by a person who had actually seen that Being originates from the One (and hence should not be identiÀed with the Àrst principle). In a similar vein.64 chapter three Secondly. III 7 [45] 6. Finally. as also appears from the etymologies of the various names of being. Only the philosopher who knows the (metaphysical) nature of things is able to construct correct names. i. True Being does not admit of any chance and thus transcends time. In Enn. since it may mislead people into believing that being is something that will exist for all times. 27–29. III 7 [45] 6 Plotinus explicitly calls attention to the didactic function of names (eternity).2 But even though ‘being’ was sufÀcient to indicate substance. the role of primary names in the Cratylus) its procession from the One. not in the sense of an indeÀnite long time but in the sense of a permanent ‘now’. according to the Cratylus. The names of Being imitate by means of sounds (cf.e. 42–43. Hence. Plotinus.8 but in the sense of ‘being imperishable’. 3.1.

trans. Plotinus protests that Aristotle uses the word ‘being’ ( ) incorrectly: T. (note. [and by this Plato] indicates to them that what is truly being is something else (Enn. about which at present our investigation would be correctly conducted. VI 2 [43] 1.4 For it is absurd to put being under one genus with non-being. Aristotle Meta. For “making a distinction” here12 means marking off and setting apart. 27d5–7. e. VI 2 [43] 1. Plotinus thus clearly connects the issue of naming correctly to that of division.11 He continues: T. and being in the realm of becoming as two different classes put under one genus. Armstrong adapted). Enn. that Aristotle there talks about beings that are homonymous. and saying that what seems to be being is not being. the Platonists.3 [W]e must in our discussion Àrst of all make a distinction between what we call being. though. a sensible particular. 991a 5–8: 10 11 . 3. i. 12 Cf. 23–28. VI 2 [43] 1.porphyry vs. to consider intelligible. whereas ‘they’ are the Aristotelians who posit that “every being seems to signify a certain ‘this’ ”. People wrongly call what is correctly called ‘becoming’ ‘being’ because of their incorrect division of reality.g. Plato Ti. Plotinus protests. 13 Cf. homonymy in the case of Aristotle Cat. where Plotinus elaborates on the relation between the names of intelligible Forms and their sensible participants. VI 1–3 [42–44]). current no doubt among those who try to harmonize Plato and Aristotle. for the example of the man and his portrait. “as if one were to put Socrates and his portrait under one genus”. according to Plotinus. trans. Calling both Socrates the man from Áesh and blood and his painted or sculpted portrait μ ).13 In fact. VI 2 [43] 1.10 Plotinus next signals a trend. and say that it never really is (Enn. 21–23. In Enn. 3.. see. of course. Surely. for whom being is primarily unchanging metaphysical being. 3b10: μ . A 9.e. proclus 65 to Plotinus’ treatise on Aristotle’s Categories (Enn. ‘We’ are. Armstrong). not the homonymous use of names). Plato would not make such a ridiculous division. true being. and what others think is being. 1a1 f. Aristotle’s categories apply to beings in the sensible world. of ‘Socrates’ is a standard example of homonymy ( μ applying one and the same name to two things that have two different deÀnitions. Aristotle’s deÀnition of homonymy in Cat. as if one were to put Socrates and his portrait under one genus. 17–21. but we call it becoming.

e. Our examination of reality should thus start from these metaphysical principles of the universe and then proceed downwards to the material realm. esp. who assumed that language refers primarily to things in the sensible realm. In the case of eternity and time. Since the Form is ontologically prior. Therefore. 15 For the same point. “but if the Form is not the same. apparently because they are focused on the sensible realm. Plotinus assumes that the meaning of its name is the primary meaning of that name. just as though one were to call both Callias and a piece of wood ‘man’. see. Therefore we actually have a quite good. pp.g. the description that goes with the name in the case of the participant is different from that in the case of the Form. pp. as can be seen not just from the case of Being but also from that of eternity. 16 As Chiaradonna 2002: 276–277 rightly observes. 126–129. the particular is not identical with its Form. Hadot 1990 esp.. They do so even when discussing intelligible reality. As is well known. The participant is like its Form. but assume that it is something that exists through all times. Plotinus’ very Platonic idea that names refer primarily to intelligible realities and only homonymously to their participants was rejected by most Neoplatonists from Porphyry onwards. All the same. they fail to understand that intelligible Being exists in the unextended now. This results in hopeless confusion. see Heiser 1991: 12–16. . Because of this likeness it is called after its cause. 14 Much has been written about this special type of homonymy in relation to Plotinus’ discussion of the Categories. because the latter causes it.14 It is after all no coincidence that Form and participant share the same name. not in their primary sense. people tend to use names in their secondary sense. and only homonymously to their intelligible causes. Plotinus’ position. As we shall see shortly. if not perfect.16 Both Plotinus’ discussion of eternity and time and his discussion of the categories follow this top-down approach.15 However.66 chapter three intelligible Forms and the participants is of a special type. but as ‘being imperishable’. Since people understand ‘always’ not in its strict sense. Àts his philosophical method that is founded on his optimistic theory about the status of the human soul. they will simply be homonyms. whereas in fact it transcends time. without remarking any property common to them” (trans. it seems. mentioned above. Tredennick). 13–14. Chiaradonna 2002: 227–305. Plotinus defends the thesis that the human soul is Àrmly rooted in the realm of Intellect. grasp of the intelligible Forms. Aubenque 1985.

For. the part of us that is rooted in the Intellect enjoys non-discursive. Chiaradonna 2003: 222–223. 30–33 where Plotinus announces that he will Àrst study intelligible Being.17 In the case of his discussion of the categories. rather than through their names. like Plotinus in the Enneads. Heiser 1991: 6–9 who illustrates this point by discussing Plotinus Enn. VI 2 [43] 1. perfect knowledge of the intelligible. VI 2 [43]) and only then turns to the categories that apply to the material realm (Enn. the analysis of names is used to underscore a point already established (cf. Furthermore. rather than the other way around.19 Rather. RvdB] and the universe perceived by the senses (trans. what others regard to be being. 3.3. 3. Discursive reasoning does not allow us to fully grasp intelligible reality. VI 2 [44]). Cf. why they took a greater interest in language. proclus 67 Plotinus explicitly indicates that he prefers to approach time from the perspective of eternity. as Socrates observes at the end of the Cratylus. 19 Cf. see T. 20 Cf. The Plotinian sage has managed to focus himself completely on the activity of this superior part of the soul.e. Plotinus’ epistemology also explains the observation made at the beginning of this paragraph that Plotinus fails to offer a systematic discussion of the relation between language and philosophy. it makes sense to assume that names refer primarily to intelligible reality. Enn.porphyry vs. Armstrong). he himself is past discursive reasoning and therefore has no particular interest in language.18 Within the context of such a top-down approach. Plotinus is not very much interested in the analysis of language as a method of philosophical investigation. Crat. Language is typical of discursive reasoning as it occurs in the rational soul. we shall say something about becoming and what comes to be [i. 36–38. Even though he may use language in order to teach others. at least to some extent. However. Because of his epistemological optimism. we may study the things themselves directly. 438d–e. T.20 The rejection of Plotinus’ doctrine of the undescended soul by later Neoplatonists explains. if it seems proper. and only “afterwards. he Àrst deals with the intelligible realm (Enn.1) in order to persuade others of its correctness. 18 17 . III 8 [30] 6.

As we have seen. see esp. as R. Porphyry spent much ink discussing this work. His work on the Categories is often. 247 n.c. Chiaradonna has argued.c. this critical approach characterizes Plotinus’ attitude to Aristotle in general. is precisely the opposite of Plotinus’. an intellectual omnivore and natural born commentator whose mission in life it was to shed light on the obscure. Interestingly. This is not the only criticism that Plotinus levels against Aristotle’s Categories. thus demonstrating the superiority of the Platonic philosophical system over that of Aristotle. Porphyry 3. like so many Neoplatonists. He does not set out to look for the Áaws in Aristotle’s philosophy. Porphyry’s attitude towards Aristotle. was.68 chapter three 3. it will appear that the numerous critical discussions of Aristotle’s semantic theory in the Commentary serve the same purpose as the critical discussions in the Enneads. 238–259.1 Porphyrius’ semantic theory Porphyry. Not so to Porphyry—or indeed to most other Neoplatonists—and in order to get a good impression of his views on semantics in general and the Cratylus in particular. o. In fact.21 He is engaged in an ongoing critical dialogue with Aristotle. Let us start with Porphyry’s inÁuential work on Aristotle’s Categories. To the modern reader these may seem to be worlds apart. From the analysis of Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus in chapter four below. 21 . He then continues to demonstrate that one may solve these problems by accepting Plato’s doctrine of the existence of intelligible causes of the physical world. be it in an altogether different spirit. on Plotinus’ criticism of Aristotle’s categories. we shall have turn to very diverse texts. p. Plotinus’ biographer and editor. 26 raises the question how Plotinus’ anti-Aristotelianism compares to that of Syrianus and Proclus. and that of the Neoplatonic commentators on Aristotle in general. Like his teacher Plotinus. Plotinus shows himself rather critical of the fact that Aristotle applies the category of being to the sensible realm of becoming. Chiaradonna o. ranging from occult cult statues to Aristotle’s notoriously difÀcult Organon. but to demonstrate the harmony between Plato and Aristotle instead. aiming at exposing the Áaws of Aristotle’s philosophy by calling attention to the problems that Peripatetic commentators on Aristotle themselves encounter when studying Aristotle. pp. read as a response to Plotinus’ criticism in an attempt to save Chiaradonna 2005. if not exclusively.

when we come to discuss Proclus. proclus 69 the Categories for Neoplatonism. even though it is not Platonic. 57–58. . but philosophers are interpreters of things that are unknown to most people and need new words to communicate the things they have discovered. For a well-argued alternative view of Plotinus’ appreciation of the Categories and the relation between his treatment of the Categories and that of Porphyry. 3–7. . 55.22 If such was his purpose. 23 Porphyry In Cat. For. see De Haas 2001. for the Categories became compulsory reading for future generations of Neoplatonists and his commentaries fathered numerous others.porphyry vs. Aristotle. 3. We shall return to this issue later on in this chapter. and employs the expressions that are commonly used to indicate such things. Hence either they have invented new and unfamiliar expressions or they have established ones in extended senses ) in order to indicate the things they have discovered ( (Porphyry In Cat. We shall now turn to Porphyry’s extant small commentary in question and answer format—his large commentary on the same work is now lost—the Àrst pages of which are our best source of Porphyry’s ideas about language.24 Here we see that Porphyry too adopts this principle of the use of ordinary language. and Galen had all insisted on clarity as the virtue of style. including those by Dexippus.5 Why.6 Because ordinary language ( ) is for communicating about everyday things. Translations of Porphyry In Cat. 8–14). Iamblichus and Simplicius. It will appear that the latter consciously rejects the Aristotelian-Porphyrian ideas about clarity and ordinary language in favor of Plato’s view. about which more below. 24 See pp. 3. given that in ordinary usage ( ) the term denotes the speech of the prosecution against someone . Porphyry gives the following answer to the question that he has just put on the table: T. as we have seen. . 55. did Aristotle choose to violate accepted usage ( ) by giving his book the title Categories?23 As will be recalled. Plato holds that proper language is not necessarily ordinary language. 22 . are taken from Strange 1992. Epicurus. It opens with the following question: T. which should be achieved by using ordinary language. his attempts were impressively successful.

μ μ μ . i. Aristotle is charged to have deviated from ordinary language ( (cf. μ μ . e. T.g. 6–7: . To this he extended sense. pp. This can be done either by coining new words or by employing existing words in an . he should try to stay as close as possible to ordinary Greek as appears from the case 28 μ and the analysis of the words . which only exist in the physical realm. VII 1191. . We have already encountered this term in this context in Galen. 55. 42 provides another nice discussion of incorporeals ( illustration. Yet even when the philosopher has to do develop his own technical language. e. who cannot be named or described. 3–5 uses the term in the case of the names which we ascribe to the One. This is the proper sense of the word incorporeal ( μ μ ). 28 Cf.26 Porphyry replies that at times a philosopher cannot escape the need to develop his own technical language. Aristotle Cat.g. μ μ Proclus In Parm. The latter belong to the that are called incoporeals intelligible realm and have therefore nothing to do which either place or body. by names that actually refer to other things. 27 For a deÀnition of see. of the which Porphyry in his Commentary on the Categories cites and as illustrations of philosophical jargon.27 Porphyry’s μ ) in Sent.e. Rhetores Graeci III): . i. Porphyry here distinguishes two sorts of incorporeals. This typical Platonic use of this term can be traced back to the Middle Platonists. It means the transference of a name from an object that is properly named so to an object that lacks a proper name. Philo Mut. On the one hand.e. as has happened in the case of .. These should be distinguished from those things .25 The opposite of speak ordinary Greek. to among the Greeks”. μ μ 192–193 (ed. since it corresponds to the etymology of the word: something that is without (alpha privans) a body. like an expression borrowed from the refers as grammarians. 13. 3. see.5). 25 μ 26 Porphyry In Cat.. Spengel. to use a word in This is known as an act of an outlandish fashion for something “for which this word is not used is . the grammarian Thrypho Trop. See p. some things are called incorporeal because they lack μ body. 58.70 chapter three Let us take a closer look at the terminology that Porphyry uses here: ). In the Platonic tradition it is used in the case of calling God. 7a6–22.

such as intelligibles. The established by convention ( latter holds that in the process of naming everything goes: “But the hearer. since we Àrst perceive sensible things before we come to think of non-sensible things. it is the overture to a serious philosophical issue. but instead about the words that are used to signify things” (In Cat. of names). so that it is all ). this is not true. As we mentioned above. Plotinus had criticized Aristotle’s claim in the Categories that what ) “most strictly. we shall Àrst name these. Iamblichus lectures Porphyry for holding that names are μ μ ). prior to the universal substance. holds that names are purely a matter of convention ).porphyry vs. Now. it appears that Porphyry. we shall see that Proclus levels the same criticism against Porphyry. In the ( course of his polemic with Porphyry on theurgy commonly known as De Mysteriis. He thus reverses the Platonic order of priority according to which the universal Form is prior to the individual that participates in it. the question to what extent Aristotle’s Categories are acceptable to a Platonist. Iamblichus tells him. Lloyd has claimed that Porphyry does not pronounce himself on the question of the imposition of names. looks at the meanings (sc. for “the names of things depend on their natures” ( ).30 Below. proclus 71 In this regard a further observation is called for. whatever the name may be”. . He is even taken to task for this by Iamblichus. The whole discussion about using proper Greek may seem to be the provenance of a grammarian rather than that of a philosopher. 57. “are not as you suppose that they are”. In order to save the Categories for Platonism. 3.29 Yet. in line with Aristotle. 5–7). and expressions are applied primarily to sensibles—for men Àrst of all assign names to what they know and perceive. primarily and most of all” is an is called being ( individual thing. C. Aristotle can say that what is called substance most strictly is the particular: T. A. whether the words of a language were assigned to their objects by nature or by convention. From what we have seen above. Within this perspective.7 I shall say that since the subject of the work is signiÀcant expressions. Porphyry argues that the Categories are not “about the things qua things at all. and only later the things which we do not perceive straight away. and only secondarily to those things that are primary by nature but secondarily to those things 29 30 Lloyd 1990: 36–37. Yet. VII 5. Iamblichus Myst. about the unchanging notion ( “These things”. you say.

34 Not very surprisingly. like for instance intelligible . who like Plotinus assumes that names refer Àrst and foremost to the intelligible Forms. cf. intelligible substances are primary (In Cat. Like Aristotle. according to Porphyry. the role that language plays in Porphyry’s philosophical method differs signiÀcantly from the role it plays in that of Plotinus. Thus with respect to signiÀcant expressions sensible individuals are primary substances. since (intelligibles) are ineffable ( ). writes in his commentary on the Categories:32 T. 3. Thus. that is sensibles and individuals. As we shall see in chapter six. RvdB) uses the name ‘substance’ metaphorically of them ( μ μ ). 25–30. e. but as regards nature. 91. pp. but it will be synonymous with physical substance.72 chapter three that are primary by nature but secondary with respect to perception—it is reasonable for him to have called the things that are primarily signiÀed by expressions. we are actually extending the use of the word. we shall only be talking metaphorically.8) and those of Plotinus.g. This implies comparable to the case of the extended use of that when we discuss metaphysical reality.. primary substances. discusses in great detail the question at what level of the intelligible realm exactly things cease to be effable.31 Most Neoplatonic commentators will adopt this view. He assumes Cf. Porphyry believes that sense-perception yields reliable universal concepts regarding the sensible universe. For sensible substance will be homonymous with intelligible substance. For the intimate relation between Dexippus’ commentary and Porphyry. Hadot 1990: 137. in a manner . making them knowable through things sensible and perceived by us. 32 31 .33 In this respect it is telling that whereas Plotinus applies the method of negative theology exclusively to the One. trans. Dillon 1990: 76). When we use the word to apply to something sensible intelligible. Chiaradonna 2002: 263–267. 34 As observe Hadot 1990: 138 and Chiaradonna 2002: 277. he (Aristotle. 19–25). 33 For a comparison of Dexippus’ views (T. 3. Proclus. representing it by its very composition (Dexippus In Cat. Porphyry uses it both in the case of the One as well as the case of the intelligible realm. representing it only by analogy. the intelligible is called after the . Dexippus. The view of Porphyry and Dexippus is thus diametrically opposed to that of Plotinus who is Àrmly convinced that language applies primarily to the intelligible. see Hadot 1990. 163–168.8 So. 41.

a scientiÀc. soul. As we have seen. Cf. (P. he says. “are like messengers that report us about things” (In Cat. or rather opinion. Smith 1987: 750 rightly observes. 191–196. requires it to move from to soul. 36 See pp.e. intellect) betrays Neoplatonic inÁuences. has been . see Mueller 1990: 478–479 and Chiaradonna forthcoming. 58. real replaced by μ is the knowledge of the Forms. 23). philosophical deÀnition) of a thing.38 3. such in contrast hence said to stand in itself ( . These are eternally present in . the meaning of called a word in ordinary language) and from there move on to the (essential deÀnition. but as A. Plotinus Enn. because he takes the intelligible as the starting-point of his investigations. esp. “Words”. one wonders what Porphyry made of the Cratylus itself. .11. e. V 9 [5] 8. V 9 [5] 7.g. on the contrary. 7–8 with Vorwerk 2001: 126 for further references.39 The ”.36 Porphyry likewise assumes that we should start our investigation from the soμ (conceptual deÀnition.porphyry vs. may mean “as says Porphyry phrase “ in his Commentary on the Cratylus”. Smith) This etymology recalls Plato Crat.2 Porphyry and the Cratylus After what has been said. see Kotzia-Panteli 2000. i. 37 On this topic. 24–28. lacks any interest in the analysis of ordinary language. 437a4–5: the name μ seems to suggest that it stops the movement of our soul towards things ( μ μ μ ). pp.37 Plotinus. from this etymology μ : of μ . Brittain 2005. 168F ed. this fragment is too condensed to allow for this conclusion and to afÀrm with conÀdence that Porphyry wrote indeed a commentary on 35 On Porphyry’s theory of abstraction. Aristotle regards the analysis of ordinary language as a Àrst step of a philosophical investigation that should eventually result in a proper scientiÀc deÀnition. Soul’s discursive knowledge. 39 The way in which the original etymology has been modiÀed ( . i. There are indications that Porphyry had some interest in the etymologies from the Cratylus as appears. For a Neoplatonist. one object of thought to another while thinking.. cf. proclus 73 that we acquire these concepts by separating the immanent form of a thing from its matter.35 These concepts coincide with the meaning of words. which is ) while being everything. 38 I owe this observation to Riccardo Chiaradonna.e.

ed. He appears to connect these names to processes in the physical world. 42 See pp. Porphyry distinguishes in his On Statues. In the course of his discussion. in marked contrast to Proclus who connects his etymologies of divine names primarily to the metaphysical realm. then.74 chapter three the Cratylus. 361 T. 356F ed. 110–112. when commenting on the names of Dionysus and Aphrodite connects his interpretation of their names to that of their statues. CLXXXI p. Smith 1988: 435. Proclus In Crat. is derived from Áowers that appear in spring but die without having born fruit. associated with (cf. 108.40 but an interesting fragment from μ . Smith again. to learn that. i. who. the lover of the goddess Cybele who died young and who was generally believed to represent the annual cycle of growing and perishing in nature. In doing so Porphyry follows Stoics such as Cornutus. Crat.44 This Àts well with Porphyry’s insistence that it is primarily sensible objects that receive names. with and thus with the 398d–e the etymology that associates art of rhetoric) and his On Know Thyself which contains an etymology (274F lines 2–6 ed. we should assume that at least divine names are natural rather than conventional. Crat.e. cf. 189–191. according to A. see pp. Bidez 1913: 152ff. 411e–412a). Smith. two levels of the goddess Hestia: a higher and is regarded as intellilevel at which she is equated with Cf. 41 40 . “with clear reference to Cratylus 401d. 358F ed.44. 404c). a work about the symbolical meaning of the attributes with which sculptors have portrayed the gods. Porphyry also turns to the explanations of divine names.42 Let us now take a closer look at Porphyry’s discussions of divine names. The name of Attis. see Van den Berg 2001: 171–173). Hera: P. throws some interesting light on Porphyry’s etymological activities. 43 Attis: P. 44 For Porphyry’s physical allegories. representations of the divine. to give another example. Courcelle 1948: 172. For a discussion of this passage. 9–12. . divine names are comparable to divine statues. for example. Smith. of μ we know unfortunately About Porphyry’s work nothing more than its title.41 I mention this at Àrst sight rather obscure work here not just because of some antiquarian interest but also because Proclus will appear to use it as an argument against Porphyry: if as Porphyry holds. It is all the more remarkable. cf. not to the physical world. Heath (Crat. Other references to the etymologies from the Cratylus can be found in the remains of Porphyry’s Rhetoric F 2a ed..43 The name of Hera is. Smith (for the Neoplatonic interpretations of the myth of Attis. 44. Cf.

So it appears that Porphyry probably advocated just a physical explanation of Hestia. not with a theological one. while Rhea personiÀes the of the earthly power ( rocky and mountainous parts of the earth and Demeter the plains. and more especially etymologies of divine names.e. following a suggestion whereas from the Cratylus. Porphyry takes them seriously as a source of ancient knowledge which associates the gods with the physical world. Smith) quotes the same fragment and more. Hadot 1990: 130. Smith 2000: 181–180. )—note that this is Cornutus’ explanation—. intelligible 46 45 . 47 Already Bidez 1913: 146–147 had argued that the interpretation of Hestia as cannot come from On Statues. Yet. nor for its etymologies. 6–7 (= 357aF.porphyry vs. proclus 75 gible and then a lower level where she is the overseer of the earth. a principle of the being of things in Porphyry.47 In conclusion.”45 P. ed. it can be said that Porphyry’s position about etymologies. Evang. Apparently the Cratylus did not interest him that much. He then continues by claiming that according to Porphyry the name Hestia applies homonymously (in the Aristotelian and the material earth. the fertile parts of the earth. i. associating it with to him. arrived at his theory of language in order to be able to argue that from some point of view is indeed what we call primarily . Eusebius Praep. the text from divine power ( Porphyry as quoted by Joannes contains no indication of two types of Hestia. neither for its reÁections on the relation of language to philosophy. resembles that of a Middle Platonist such as Plutarch. Let us take a sensible closer look at the fragment that stems from Joannes Lydus. According think that Hestia is the earth. the fragment informs us. Joannes next quotes a sense) to intelligible passage from Porphyry according to which the leading principle of the μ ) is called Hestia. Àrmness ( associate it with being. it does not seem that Porphyry made much use of the Cratylus as an aid to etymologize these names. as one would expect him to do. after all.46 Àrst substance. from the examples that we have seen above. Can this really be true? Porphyry had. Hadot too refers to this passage as a testimony for the idea of a . this version too presents us with a physical interpretation of Hestia and some other goddesses. Hestia. is the leading principle μ ). III 11. yet. However.

Blumenthal 1997: 8–9. Being-in-a-position. but also to the intelligible realm. and god: T. clearly at odds with both Plotinus’ and Porphyry’s thesis that the categories are intended to describe just the sensible world. he continued the work on Aristotle’s Categories that Porphyry had started and produced a very inÁuential commentary of his own. 49 48 . 123. Iamblichus 4. in another in the case of incorporeal entities like soul. 9ff. Iamblichus says. 1–3. 2. It is known as Iamblichus’ . see Dillon 1997.48 His remaining work leaves one with the impression that such extreme harmonization was indeed his ambition. Simplicius In Cat. 50 On Iamblichus’ . since it provides a domain for them in order that they may be situated and operate in it. a mode of interpretation that makes what is said about one level of reality bear on another level. In it.1 Iamblichus on the Categories: the One later Alexandrian commentator on Aristotle once complained that Iamblichus took his desire to harmonize Plato with Aristotle to such an extreme degree that he even denied that Aristotle opposed the Forms.9 For indeed the latter (soul) is said to be the place of the reasonings (logoi) in it. In another sense the intellect is said to be a place for the forms. argued that the categories apply not just to the sensible world. we are very well informed about its content by later commentators on the Categories.49 This was a novel approach to the Categories. see Dillon 1997. the latter reports. 3.76 chapter three 4. and especially by Simplicius. intellect. followed for the most part the large commentary by Porphyry. adduced material from the Pythagorean Archytas.. he criticized and elucidated Porphyry. most importantly. As regards our present topic. since it has the same substance as the forms. cf. on Iamblichus’ commentary on the Categories. at times even to the letter. Even though Iamblichus’ commentary itself is lost.50 His discussion of the category of being-in-a-position as preserved by Simplicius may serve as an illustration in point. Iamblichus. In addition to this. and. is considered in one way in the case of bodies. and Elias In Cat. he appears to have put forward a version of Porphyry’s semantic theory adapted to Àt the needs of Platonic dialectic.

proclus 77 contains its thoughts together with the forms within itself. thus [said]. 339.porphyry vs. Iamblichus. in one way in the case of bodies. however. 3. see Luna 1990. claims that the same account of being-in-a-place applies both to (sensible) bodies and (intelligible) incorporeals. and in another way in the case of incorporeals. Thus the account ( the same both for sensible and intelligible realities. it is done so homonymously. Moreover. or substance. i. 36–340. trans. “one thing being limited within another”. In the strictest sense everything is said to be positioned in god. The differences between Iamblichus and Porphyry are striking. namely of one thing being limited within another. But that is not so: if one reÁects more precisely on the matter. Iamblichus explicitly denies that the occurrences of the category of place at the various levels of reality relate to each other homonymously. ) maintains that ‘being-in-a-position’ in the strictest sense ( refers to god. in the case of sensible entities this means something different from the case of intelligible entities. according to Simplicius In Cat. 70. both Porphyry and Plotinus had argued that when the same expression is applied both to the sensible and intelligible realm. in respect of cause. More in particular.e. 363.e. and in the cases of providing a location and being situated. but that [difference] does not displace the single account of the [category of] being-in-a-position out of itself (Simplicius In Cat. For the same account of being-in-a-position runs through all of these cases. 9–14. he denies that intelligibles can be in a place.52 What makes the difference are the realities to which these ) of being-in-a-position is names are applied.7). Here. Likewise. However. on the contrary. A difference [among the cases] comes about in view of the fact that the objects are different and establish their position in relation to different things. since in the case of the latter one object cannot physically encompass another. or potentiality. i. since all that comes after him is comprehended in him. is being said in many ways.51 The category of being-in-a-place applies solely to corporeal things. But perhaps (Iamblichus goes on) it will seem to some that being-in-a-position. or dimension. As we have seen. Porphyry in general holds that a word in its strict sense refers to something sensible (T. or operation. the same expression covers two different descriptions. but claims that See p. 52 51 . On Iamblichus’ denial that the categories apply homonymously to the sensible and intelligible world. Gaskin 2000: 71–72). 12. one and the same analogy is observed in the cases of containing and being contained. Iamblichus.

Dalsgaard Larsen 1972 vol. μ μ On genus as intelligible genus. many followed Porphyry. 11–12. Whereas Plotinus and Porphyry felt obliged to make a choice. .2 Iamblichus on the Cratylus About Iamblichus’ precise views on the Cratylus we know little.54 just as in T. CVI p.55 I assume that Iamblichus’ of the Categories was part of his attempts to harmonize Plato and Aristotle. 56 In this regard. which is the same everywhere. Simplicius In Cat. All the more so. 11–14. he thought the dialogue important enough to incorporate it in his standard curriculum of twelve dialogues that an aspiring Platonist had to 53 Simplicius In Cat. For as we shall see in the next paragraph. He continues: “For there is a single relation of contained things towards containing things. . be it that in both cases they will have a different sense because intelligible entities differ from sensible ones. words in their strictest sense refer to the intelligible realm. but varying according to the different subsistent realities of the participating things: for there is one variety [of this relation] in the case of bodies and another which applies to incorporeals”. As we shall see. This approach was not going to be popular. it is sometimes pointed out that Proclus In Crat. I p.g. we does not appear in the Cratylus. as Dillon rightly observes. but nobody seems to have taken up Iamblichus’ position. 363. Iamblichus wants to have his cake and eat it. 9–11: .53 The genus meant here is the intelligible genus.. according to which words refer to the sensible realm and the Cratylus according to which words refer primarily to the intelligible realm. this passage is not necessarily proof of a commentary. However. and some. Gaskin 2000: 97. Iamblichus did not just comment on the Categories. μ . Simplicius In Cat.56 Yet. he had also studied the Cratylus. From the complete lack of indications to the contrary it seems likely that Iamblichus never produced a commentary on the dialogue himself. 56. 4. cf. Yet. because the name 55 54 . Plotinus. they are equally Àt for describing the sensible realm.. 3. trans. 353 and Dillon 1973: 22). According to this . He thus had to Ànd a way to bring together the Categories. 13–23 by both Iamblichus and Amelius (cf. refers to an interpretation of the name e. 53. may add. 363.9 place in the strictest sense is said of the relation of everything to god.78 chapter three they are related in accordance with the very deÀnition of the genus. including Proclus.

In one passage (In CA XXV). As we have seen above. after an introductory stage that aimed the study of reality. Hierocles offers an account of how names μ were produced by the wise man of old ( μ μ ): they contemplated the intelligible. and hence indirectly images of ( μ μ ). the lasting inÁuence of the Middle Platonic reading makes itself felt. Hierocles remarks: “And so the end of their contemplation became for us the starting-point for the discovery of the intellection of the things”.porphyry vs.. No matter that Plato had intended the Cratylus as a warning against attempts to study things through their names. proclus 79 study. Westerink 1990.e.58 Proclus says something similar in his Commentary on the Cratylus: “through them (i. 24. of at preparing the student for this study. may recall the Cratylus is his discussion of divine names in Myst. It is said to “teach about μ ”. see Schibli 2002: 302–304. a student of Plutarch of Athens. the names of things). just like the Middle Platonists before them did exactly this. According to the anonymous Prolegomena in Platonis Philosophiam. which is clearly based on a Neoplatonic exegesis of the Cratylus. i. the Cratylus was to be read relatively early on in the curriculum. Prolegomena X 26. Plato stretches out towards the things. It marked the beginning of . we Ànd that the only passage in his remaining works that. Those who the intelligible Forms ( rightly understand these names are consequently referred back to the Forms. into names that are themselves symbols and images of these thoughts ). he holds it against Porphyry that the latter maintains that names are just a matter of convention. 59 Proclus In Crat.e. This conjecture is supported by a remark by Hierocles. When we return for the moment to Iamblichus.57 which contains the fullest version of this list. These thoughts they turned into spoken language. The references to the curriculum have been collected by Festugière 1969.e. VII 4–5. Instead he claims that they 57 Cf.”59 Here. however faintly. which resulted in thoughts in the soul that were images of the intelligible Forms. 58 For a translation of and commentary on this passage. 3. the Neoplatonists. . active in the Àrst part of the Àrst half of the Àfth century c. 34–39 ed. so that we can deduce that it was supposed to study reality through the names of things. in his commentary on the Pythagorean Carmen Aureum. IX p.

some barbarian peoples have preserved the divine names of their languages unchanged. this need not be as irreconcilable with the content of the Cratylus as may Àrst seem. on the other hand. see also Van den Berg 2006. 61 Iamblichus Myst. i.e. 414c4ff. are by nature restless innovators who cannot let things just be as they are but feel a constant urge to change them. seems to go against the grain of the Cratylus. From this remark. i. Iamblichus. Yet. Iamblichus complains. as can be seen from the case of the church father Origen Contra Celsum I 24–25. Platonists such as Plutarch and Porphyry concluded that barbaric names of the gods are equal to those of the Greeks. holds that that the barbarian divine names are superior to those in use among the Greeks. they have not added or taken away anything from the old formulas. 60 . As will be remembered. On the relation between Origen. However. just that there is no reason to assume that on principle Greek is superior to barbarian languages. in the words of J. where Socrates complains that the Greeks in their desire to embellish language. VII 5: ). Socrates in the Cratylus makes the bold claim that barbarian names may be equally correct as Greek ones. Iamblichus was not the only intellectual to take these magical theories aboard. He Ànds them lacking in being true to the nature of their objects. that in the Iamblichean reading program the study of things starts with the Cratylus. who too combines a Platonic semantic theory with magical lore. for an analysis of the passage from Origen. VII Iamblichus continues by developing a theory of the superiority of barbaric divine names in rituals that is in keeping with some generally accepted magical views60 but that. at Àrst sight at least. the gods. This squares nicely with what we have just seen. Plato. Dillon. however.80 chapter three depend on the nature of the beings (Myst. in Myst. It is interesting that Iamblichus’ reason to fault the Greek divine names is very Platonic. after all.61 Iamblichus might have found corroboration for this linguistic vice of the Greeks in Crat.e. The Greeks. In keeping with this. Their permanently changing divine names thus do not correctly represent the Àxed nature of the gods. Iamblichus and magical papyri. the Platonic underworld—which warn “Not to change the barbarian names” (Fr. started to add and take away letters from the original words μμ for the sake of euphony ( Magical papyri testify of the belief in the power of barbaric names as do the Chaldaean Oracles—an expression of. For the latter are characterized by their stable nature: they are unchanging Beings in the Platonic sense. 150). VII 5. see Dillon 1985. does not tell us that all languages are in fact equally correct.

6–24. they tended to stress the differences between the two. 5. and in his footsteps his student Proclus. did not feel the urge to harmonize Plato with Aristotle. Proclus In Crat. proclus 81 μ ). Proclus’ view on the matter is rather nuanced: he does not deny that there is something conventional about names. IV 849. 4. For Syrianus’ and Proclus’ critical attitude to Aristotle. 12 training his guns on Porphyry’s Aristotelian semantic theory.62 5. 64 In Parm. 103–106 below. 1–4. the process also tearing apart Iamblichus’ In Parm. If this discussion does indeed throw some light on Iamblichus as a reader of the Cratylus. IV 849. IV 849. while in . just that they are completely conventional.63 Rather to the contrary. Syrianus. 16–853. 20: μ μ . e. he makes the stability of the divine names into his most important argument for the thesis of the natural correctness of names against Aristotelian conventionalism. 114–118.1 Proclus and the rejection of the Porphyrian semantic theory (In Parm. see. Proclus 5. but also that he maintains that the Greeks do not constantly change their divine names: since the gods are themselves unchanging beings. of which the particulars here μ ). Proclus praises partake and get their names ( the statement that the Forms have given their being as well as their names to the things in this world as a remark of genius and worthy of Platonic principles. it will be of interest to see that Proclus. who is equally committed to theurgy as Iamblichus. so are their names. will in his Commentary on the Cratylus take an altogether different line. X p. It is not just that he maintains that every people should worship its gods in its own language. He starts by opposing those who hold that names are purely a matter of convention64 to those who hold that they are in a way natural: See pp. 16–853.. thus corrupting the originally correctly given names. see further especially pp.g. In fact. Proclus now enters into a lengthy explanation of why this is so.porphyry vs. 130e5–131a2 Parmenides had asked young Socrates whether he believed that there are certain Forms. 63 62 . It is thus that we Ànd Proclus in In Parm. 12) Contrary to Porphyry and Iamblichus. XII p.

c. 128–129. 67 Morrow-Dillon translate “and it will not matter whether we call god ( ) ‘living (‘the one being’ ”. 70 On Diodorus Cronus (2nd half of the 4th century–early 3th century b. μ . 114 (= Stephanus In Int. Iamblichus’ criticism of he baptized one of his slaves Porphyry in Myst. Cousin). 38. 9. (2) the imposition of names of invisible entities does not happen at random. are the Àrst to have received speciÀc names.66 then the perceptible thing will have the name primarily and god will have it derivatively. 69 . as a result of our transferring the name to him by analogy. Porphyry on everything goes: there are no objective rules for correct naming. Two considerations.). It holds that language refers primarily to the sensible things because they are more familiar to us. however. when μ (cf. even as a certain man once imposed upon his slaves the names of certain conjunctions (In Parm. see Döring 1972. Fr. 68 Translations from Proclus In Parm. about this story in particular. These are named after the sensible things by ‘wiser ). see Muller 1994: 779–781. the inmediatily preceeding phrase 65 . 66 Reading. in the process of naming men’ (cf. Steel suggests to me. Porphyry’s idea about : ordinary language is the norm). as is customary in Neoplatonic god to which he refers as writings (cf. god) are ontologically speaking prior. but takes some thinking. as C. are after Morrow-Dillon 1987. 112 (= Ammonius In Int.70 ‘Invisible realities’. by use of certain analogies. Finally. 113 (= Simplicius In Cat. as I explain above. IV 849. as was famously illustrated by Diodorus Cronus (‘a certain man’). for these. 19–33).g.10 [t]hey grant the many the authority to impose names and assert that names have their origin in perceptible things. 3. It grants the many the authority to impose names69 (cf. cf. 17–20). 27. instead of (ed. Cousin). . the wiser men set names for invisible realities. a tacit and correct emendation by Morrow-Dillon of μ (ed. Morrow-Dillon 1987: 219 translate “they make the the multitude responsible for the conventional usage” but this translation seems to miss the point. 15–24). go against this translation: (1) here in front of us’) suggests that Proclus has the sensible living being in mind.68 This passage strongly recalls Porphyry’s semantic theory. Fr. not (‘the one up there’).65 Thus if they should call both god and this perceptible thing here ‘living being’. 20–24) and the remarks on pp. even though intelligible entities (like e. being before everybody’s eyes. and from them. Fr. and it will not matter whether we call the sensible thing ‘living being’ 67 or by any other name that we choose to put upon it.82 chapter three T. . ). VII).

73 Those who believe that names are such. whereas it is not possible to have precise knowledge of the sensibles. So. They are like statues μ ) of their objects imitating them “by means of the meaning of ( μ ). i. 11–16. IV 849. Several of these elements may be combined into one word in order to imitate the various qualities of that thing. 76 Proclus In Parm. and not to sensible things as Porphyry and others have it.e. names refer primarily to the immaterial Forms. 74 Proclus In Parm. Proclus’ reason why we may not know the sensibles is not. and makes use name refer primarily to the immaterial Forms. while Porphyry had argued that it is only logical to assume that names refer primarily to perceptible things since these are prior and more familiar to us. the expresses movement (Crat. but rather that whereas the immaterial Forms are purely what they are. Proclus may have the kind of arithmetical analysis in mind that were practiced by Platonists such as Theodore of Asine. 424b10: e. IV 850. the combination of these their elements ( ). 426c1–3).”71 The “meaning of ( the elements” and the combination of these refer to Socrates’ theory ) that imitate qualities. that these are constantly changing. IV 850. μμ μ 73 On Theodorus of Asine complicated analysis of words. 75 Proclus In Parm.76 material sensibles.. 25 and the discussion of this passage by Gersh 1978: 289–307. according to Proclus. as one may perhaps expect after having read the Cratylus. II 274. that the names of the things have been assigned to them in accordance with their nature. even though the universal Forms may be more prior Proclus In Parm. 72 71 . is ) and hence name that we can know these better (μ 75 them better.72 Plato does not discuss the mimetic quality of number. will leave the invention of names to the experts.g. “as Socrates says in the Cratylus when he makes the names the task of the dialectician. are not. are after all expressions of the knowledge of the name-giver. 13–14: . 6–11. who made use of the fact that Greek letters can also be used as numerals. according to Socrates in the Cratylus. 33–850. and their number ( μ ). 427c8–d1: . proclus 83 Proclus opposes this position to that of those who think that names are images of their objects. see Proclus In Tim. of linguistic elements (Crat. Names.74 The reason why. Crat. 10–278. IV 850. and secondarily to sensible things”.porphyry vs. since they are mixed up with a lot of other things. 5.

and the universal term the . the example of ‘man’ Ànally. 79 Cf.g. e. T. for this reason man is not the same thing when we are speaking of the intelligible as when we refer to the sensible man (Proclus In Parm. according to others homonymously. then. 74a–d. Ackrill): “when things have the name in common and the deÀnition of being which corresponds to the name is the same. precisely this. VI 3 [44] 9.. where Socrates points out to Simmias and Cebes that equal sticks and stones are never entirely equal. 91. may also be ( found in Plotinus On the Kinds of Being (Enn. 21–31).. which is always equal. Cf. where Plato explains that since we see that material things. substance.79 As we On this passage.84 chapter three simpliciter. There. The example of Àre is taken from Plato Ti. for example both a man and an ox are animals” (note. applying the name ‘human being’ in the sense of ‘rational animal’ to both Socrates and Plato. we should not ). What we mean by ‘equal’. ‘Àre’.g. 30–31). though. The Àrst is taken from Plato Phd. in fact they are not. he brings up the question whether this is a case of homonymy or synonymy. recalling the passage from the Timaeus. 78 77 . turns the Aristotelian view upside down: Aristotle was wrong to call the sensible thing the true . not the concept of equality which we derive from unequal equal sticks and stones. Thus.77 Porphyry. according to some synonymously. claims. Aristotle Cat. Now that Proclus has laid down the claim that μ refer primarily to the Forms and only secondarily to the material participants. is Àrst and foremost the true equality of the unchanging Form Equal.. Interestingly. and secondarily of the sensible thing.11 Many have thought that Plato applies ( ) the same names both to intelligibles and to sensibles. they are called synonymous. My opinion is that he is using them homonymously. are constantly changing. IV 851. 2–4. Plotinus. cf. 1a6–8 (trans. pace Plotinus. but a ‘what is of such and such a quality’ call them a ‘this’ ( ). so that we have to assume that our knowledge of equality derives from the Form Equal itself. 3. but as being primarily a likeness of the intelligible reality. the 78 as one expects. Synonymy means applying one and the same name to two different things in the same sense. Proclus now responds that even though it may thus seem that the sensible things are easier to know. Porphyry In Cat. Proclus illustrates his point by means of the examples of ‘equal’. such as Àre. and ‘man’. e. Chiaradonna 2004: 21. For ‘man’ is not homonymous in the sense of a bare name applied to two different things. 49d–e. though in a different way from that which they suppose.

that a man who has had a vision of the goddess Athena as she is described in Homer. The existence of homonymy had been used by some as an argument against the claim that names are ‘by nature’ in the Platonic sense. 1–3. without committing himself to synonymy. 80 On Syrianus on homonymy and Forms. Athanassiadi). the one made after the image of Athena herself will make a special impression. Iamblichus. see the detailed discussion by Opsomer 2004. the Athenian Neoplatonists postulate a special type of homonymy in the case of the relation between the intelligible Forms and their sensible participants. whereas the painting after the statue will carry only a frigid likeness. 81 Proclus In Crat. to be no difference at all. since it is the picture of a lifeless object. Proclus next qualiÀes his agreement. upon seeing a statue of Aphrodite. there would seem. 21–23. the answer by Dexippus in his commentary on the Categories on the question why the Pythagorean Archytas abstains from discussing things like homonymy.porphyry vs. Then. he “fell into a sweat through the inÁuence of divine terror and astonishment and my soul was Àlled with such joy that I was quite unable to go back home” (trans.80 However. if both would depict Athena in the same posture. would paint a picture after that statue. Suppose. 32–852. discussed at pp. 82 Proclus In Parm. And suppose furthermore that another man who had seen the famous statue of Athena by Pheidias. For the special impression that such a statue could make. 6. would paint her. 11. had denied this. cf. The sensible participant is called after its Form even though it is something different from that Form since it derives its nature from that Form. which he discusses in his Commentary on the Cratylus. cf.81 Proclus replies that in cases of homonymy the name is only seemingly the same. For. XVI p. how does one explain that one name aptly imitates two different things? Proclus was well aware of this argument. Zintzen who describes how. “for since they lay down that names are attached to things by nature. they deny all anomaly in language” (Dexippus In Cat. not the synonymous use of names as is the case here). thus Proclus. synonymy etc. Yet. on the other hand. trans. 103–106 below. proclus 85 have seen.: these things are not in accord with Pythagorean principles. both Plotinus and Porphyry assume that we use names homonymously when we refer to an intelligible and a sensible entity by the same name. Proclus agrees with Plotinus up to a point. Dillon 1990: 39). if names are images or statues of their objects.82 that Aristotle there talks about beings that are synonymous. 17. IV 851. to the superÀcial observer at least. an anecdote from Damascius Vita Isidori 87 ed. since in these cases we do not use these names in the same sense. Like Plotinus. The reference to Pheidias recalls . on closer inspection.

Proclus Àrmly rejects this thesis. Proclus In Tim. the name is derived from name (being winged)..84 Proclus thus follows Plotinus in claiming that names refer primarily to the intelligible Forms and not to their sensible participants. see ed.86 chapter three The same goes for names. Armstrong). 15. equal with unequal and the like”. He now argues against it by analyzing what actually happens when we give names to things. in the case of physical μ . since it elevates the soul to the intelligible it is derived from realm (Phdr. such as . III 333. discussed in Van den Berg 1997. Porphyry’s sketch of the rise of language had suggested that we use names to refer to sensible objects. he too assumes that we Plotinus Enn. In fact. As we have just seen.g. Therefore. 238 c). 85 Cf.83 When we use. 28 ff. the notion that we have in mind is that of pure equality.85 Yet. In the case of the divine one. good art does not take ). e. not of something that is both equal and unequal. Proclus has not demonstrated what is wrong with the Porphyrian view apart from the fact that it runs counter to Platonic orthodoxy. Marinus Proclus § 30 reports that when the statue of Athena that until that time had stood in the Parthenon was taken away. So what seems to be one name. Proclus refers to Pheidias’ statue of Athena instead of that of Zeus possibly because he had a special relationship with this goddess and her statue. the name ‘equal’. .). IV 852. the force of physical desire (Phdr. So far. are in fact two different names. 23–27. 32–40: one should not despise the arts ( ) because they imitate sensible things. themselves copies of the Forms. V 8 [31] 1. Saffrey-Segonds 2001: 164 n. “the names that we use will be suitable primarily to Forms. He assumed that knowledge of the Forms is possible because a part of our soul always remains at the level of the divine Intellect. 83 Proclus In Parm. In the case of Plotinus. “For Pheidias too these things as its model but superior forming principles ( did not make his Zeus from any model perceived by the senses. The statue was probably that of Athena Promachos. Proclus posits that in general we use names “because we want to indicate μ the distinguished notions about the things ( μ μ )”. not to things that contain a considerable mixture of opposites. 20–22. . his semantic theory went hand in hand with his epistemology. 84 Proclus In Parm. so-called equal sensible objects are also in many ways unequal. Athena appeared in a dream to Proclus and announced that from now on she wished to live with Proclus. but understood what Zeus would look like if he wanted to make himself visible” (trans. 252 b ff. Proclus argues. IV 852. as Proclus explains by means of an example from the Phaedrus where Plato offers two different etymologies of the .. .

If we want to grasp reality. he lays down the general principle of his philosophy of nature. All we have to do is to examine and articulate our very own essential reasons which are always at our disposition. 86 . 88 For an illuminating treatment of these ‘essential reasons’ and their role in Proclus’ philosophy. who believes that we should start a philosophical inquiry μ (conceptual deÀnition) that is contained from the in ordinary language and from there move on to the (essential deÀnition) of a thing.87—C. since he assumes that knowledge of the metaphysical causes of the universe is possible. An illustration in point is his discussion of time in his Commentary on the Timaeus. 89 For Proclus’ views on physics as a study of the metaphysical causes of the universe and his criticism of Aristotle for failing to do so. p. there is no need for us to study the phainomena and the concepts that we derive from these. but of our own innate copies of these.86 (reasons) (essential) because they Procus calls these ) of the human soul. The physical world has to be studied Àrst and foremost as the product of metaphysical causes. 87 Proclus thus uses the term in a different manner as compared to Porphyry (see p. Steel hence constitute the essence ( suggests the translation ‘essential reasons’. prefers a top-down approach of philosophy.89 Proclus’ subsequent discussion of time is informed by this principle. 73 above). which is after all about the sensible universe. proclus 87 can have knowledge of the Forms.porphyry vs. which he calls and which are the objects of discursive thought. Proclus blames Aristotle for not taking these metaphysical causes into account. Because of this approach Plotinus is not very much interested in the analysis of ordinary language. He explains that the majority of men ( Discursive thought thus plays a far more important role in the epistemology of Proclus than in that of Plotinus. whether we are aware of it or not. Proclus adopts Plotinus’ methodology. see further Steel 1997a. The latter explains all physical things from matter instead. Plotinus Ànds fault with the Stagirite because he fails to take these causes into account. Plotinus. we always carry these around with us.88—Therefore. see Steel 2003b. 00 above). Whereas Porphyry and many others try to harmonize Aristotle with Plato. Such in contrast to Porphyry. be it not of the intelligible Forms themselves. He starts this discussion by brieÁy looking at the ordinary concepts of time and eternity. as Porphyry suggests. which also explains why Proclus appears to be far more interested in language than Plotinus (cf. As we have seen. At the beginning of this commentary.

these people developed their concepts and the corresponding names in the way that Porphyry had described in T. (time) from (eternity) from (being always. . Aristotle built on these ordinary concepts. 21. i. i. Hence people normally derive the word (i. Proclus In Tim. Proclus In Tim. III 8.e. the dance of the planets). 2.96 90 91 92 93 94 95 μ 96 Proclus In Tim. Proclus In Tim. a type of movement. 1–21. but to the dance of > > ) instead. famously positing that time is the number of movement. since it shows that his own views are in agreement with the superior intuition of the namegiver.92 He thus clearly favors the top-down approach.91 Proclus. the explication of the name testiÀes of the correctness of his thesis.94 Thus. again. Proclus corroborates his thesis by etymologizing the word does not He rejects the ‘folk-etymology’ as misleading. Proclus In Tim. like number from observing the movements of physical bodies and more ) in particular the heavenly bodies. we should try to pinpoint their exact location in the intelligible realm. but that it belongs to the level of Intellect.90 Thus. Proclus in the Commentary on the Cratylus will insist on the fact that we are only capable of correctly etymologizing a word once we have grasped the nature of the thing that the word is supposed to express.88 chapter three ) have the notion that time is “something of movement”. 180–184 below. III 28. From this they deduced that there had to be an eternal and unmoved cause of these movements. The more subtle ( among these continued to consider eternity. including a demonstration of what is wrong with Aristotle’s deÀnition of time. III 29. eternity. 23–10. 12–14: . From these observations the intellectuals next developed a notion of something that could not be perceived. 1–7. See pp. III 9.6: they started with what could immediately be perceived (the movement of the heavenly bodies).e. After a long discussion. μ μ μ μ μ . Proclus In Tim. however. 6. Cf. not moving and or changing). III 10. 2–8. Proclus intellect ( observes. 3. They observed that the movements of the universe repeat themselves forever identically. The word refer primarily to the dance of the heavenly bodies. 18–9. III 20. Following in the footsteps of Plato.95 As we shall see below.93 Proclus Ànally believes to have established that time is not primarily a quality of the physical world.e. Ànds fault with this approach.

he had said.2 Proclus on (In Alc. which hails the philosopher as the authority in linguistic matters. Alcibiades claims that one can learn serious things . 258. Proclus on style. Proclus gives it a new meaning in keeping with his Platonic semantics. V 982.97 Proclus. his philosophy also demands such a theory. If this were true. assumes that ordinary language is normative. The Àrst one concerns the demand of which. as we have seen.3.e.: Proclus In Parm. This is at odds with the Cratylus. . 97 98 Parm. 99 100 See pp. 21–259.99 5. the result of Porphyry’s and Dexippus’ semantic theory was that all our discourse on metaphysics is metaphorical. the Platonic philosopher is in a position to tell what a word really means. illustration of this Platonic approach to all together as a semantics: instead of simply rejecting misguided demand. 111a1–4. if somewhat unexpected. one “will completely destroy the power of all dialectical discourse”.100 Proclus’ discussion of the concept of in his commentary on the Alcibiades provides an interesting.98 In chapter Àve. As we have seen.porphyry vs. 21) Now that the differences between Porphyry’s semantic theory and that of Proclus have become evident. rephrased this warning as follows: “We shall then be abolishing the whole of dialectic if we do not admit the existence of in souls”. In Alc. when commenting on this passage. If one denies this. See chapter one § 3. even when the average speaker of Greek uses it in a completely different sense. i. we shall see in greater detail that Proclus believes that the connection between Forms and names is essential to Platonic dialectic. Plato in the Parmenides had demanded that philosophical thought had to be about deÀnite Forms with a clear and unchanging character of their own. 19–21: μ μ μ μ . 135–139. one may well wonder what would be left of the Platonic philosophical enterprise. 135c1 f. . from the man in the street such as Proclus comments that speaking Greek is not something simple. Because of his superior understanding of reality. ‘to speak Greek’. it is time to compare Porphyry and . proclus 89 Proclus’ semantic theory is not just a consequence of his philosophy.

this other ‘horse’. Cf. 258. after O’Neill 1971: 169–171. second in the point of wisdom is to assign appropriate names to things”. we come to a third type which corresponds to the correct names from the Cratylus. 27–6. 2. whereas Proclus continues by interpreting number as Intellect ( name-giving is the work of the intelligent soul which contemplates the Forms that constitute Intellect. . XVI p. this ‘man’. the philosopher”. 5. in the sense of using ordinary Greek. “to assign the proper uses of the terms that are naturally appropriate μ to their subjects” ( μ μ ). i. T. We turn to such a knowledgeable specialist when we Ànd that the understanding .102 It is precisely because of the fact that consists in ordinary usage that ordinary man this form of is the appropriate teacher of it.6 above. corresponds to the way in which Porphyry The Àrst sense of ) and uses the word: it is a matter of sticking to ordinary usage ( is concerned with sensible individual things such as individual pieces of wood. Proclus In Crat. for example. trans.103 One Ànal remark about Proclus’ discussion of : Porphyry had insisted on it.90 chapter three but threefold. . 3. ). and so forth ( for everything”. Proclus quotes a Forms. 21. the true Beings or of the ordinary people is too weak to grasp . This is the work of “the man who has examined the nature of things. this thing here ) is called ‘wood’. In support of this explanation of Pythagorean akousma: “the wisest of all the things that are is number. 21– 259. which is the territory Passing over the second sense of of the grammarian. Proclus discusses this akousma in greater detail in his Commentary on the Cratylus. “to observe the Greek ordinary use of words ( μ ). 19. and we shall postpone a more detailed discussion of it until then. for the sake 101 102 103 Proclus In Alc. 3.e.101 He then proceeds to describe the three senses of : 1. “to be accurate in the use of Greek language and to observe its correct form in pronunciation”. horses and persons.

V 990. . He seizes the opportunity to deliver a damning remark—which he will repeat in the Commentary on the Cratylus106—on Aristotelian logic. A minority of the Neoplatonists. these logical works are in fact an exposition of Aristotle’s philosophical methods. proclus 91 of clarity. A Platonic philosopher discusses things unknown to the general public. ordinary language is unsuited to discuss Platonic metaphysics. Even though these may not be prior ontologically speaking. Conclusions Porphyry’s semantic theory was the dominant one in late Antiquity. which were considered as a useful supplement to Plato’s inspired dialogues. whereas dialectic is unpleasant to them “by reason of the fact that it is ) and says nothing clear (μ ) to them”. objected to Aristotle’s approach. they are prior to us. much then for 6. we should start 104 105 106 Plato Parm. For such a system as that is actually admired by the many”. On the positive side. However. The particular way in which a Platonic philosopher uses language may trouble an ordinary speaker of Greek. putting it down as “empty μ argumentations and logical methods ( μ ). Therefore it is much easier for us to know these than the universals. 1–17. Porphyry and his followers were prepared to pay that price: our discussions of the intelligible realm are metaphorical. See chapter 5 § 2. 135d5 Proclus In Parm. An essential aspect of Aristotle’s methodology is that we start our investigations from the sensible particulars.104 observed that to the many dialectic is “idle talk” ( Proclus comments105 that even though the many may call it thus. not surprisingly. So unfamiliar ( and clarity as virtues of philosophical style. According to them. and more in particular his logical works. analysis of ordinary language provides a good starting-point of a philosophical investigation. including Plotinus and Proclus. it is in fact the salvation of the human soul. Its popularity can easily be explained from the tendency among a majority of the Neoplatonists to accommodate Aristotle in their system. primarily understood as expressions of concepts based on sense-perception. To Proclus clarity is not necessarily a virtue. Plato in the Parmenides had already ). words are. If so. Within such a system.porphyry vs.

. Nor does it come as a surprise that Proclus signed for the only ancient commentary on the Cratylus. will also play a prominent part in the Commentary. The semantic theory from the Cratylus. It will appear that all the key-issues of this chapter such as the relation between Plato’s semantic theory and that of Aristotle. A philosophy that failed to do so could never be expected to yield an adequate description of the world. suited them much better. in a way it was only to be expected that the Cratylus was relatively ignored by most Neoplatonists since they followed Porphyry. The next three chapters will focus on that commentary. according to which names reÁect dialectician’s knowledge of the Forms. as the many shortcomings of Aristotle’s system demonstrated. On their view. the Forms. the ontologically prior Forms are also prior to us. thus adding detail to Proclus’ theory about language. and the role of etymology in philosophical discourse. Thus. the relation between names of particulars and Forms. in one way or another.92 chapter three top down from the intelligible causes of the sensible universe. provided that we take the trouble to focus on them.

Sorabji’s Ancient Commentators on Aristotle series (Duvick 2007). I have proÀted. it is. Ritoré Ponce 1992a. This may seem an easy enough job. In doing so. they disregard the context from which these passages were lifted. Therefore. An English translation by B. The work has so far scarcely proÀted from the recent upsurge of interest in Proclus. Hirschle 1979. In order to fully appreciate what is said by a commentator it is important to read what he says against the backdrop of the text on which he is commenting.1 Those few scholars who have paid attention to the Commentary tend to regard it as a lucky dip from which one may pick up interesting bits and pieces in order to reconstruct aspects of Proclus’ theory of language. Sheppard 1987. because of the speciÀc nature of the Commentary on the Cratylus. what they say is in the end to no small extent determined by their source texts. Duvick has been published in R. Introduction In the next three chapters we shall take a closer look at Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus. 1 The standard edition of Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus is Pasquali 1908. While it may be true that the ancient commentators went well beyond merely elucidating the text under discussion in that they used the commentary format to develop their own views and that it thus makes sense to speak of “the philosophy of the commentators”.CHAPTER FOUR PROCLUS’ COMMENTARY ON THE CRATYLUS (I): THE ISSUE OF THE CORRECTNESS OF NAMES 1. important to keep in mind that these texts are commentaries all the same. which the author kindly put at my disposal. I feel. It has been translated into Italian by Romano 1989 and into Spanish by Álvarez Hoz & Gabilondo & García 1999. Studies on (aspects of ) Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus include Trouillard 1975. Abbate 2001. . For whatever degree of freedom the ancient commentators may have allowed themselves. from an unpublished version of the latter translation. and occasionally borrowed. my intention in these chapters will be to bring out the main features of Proclus’ interpretation of the Cratylus. but in fact it is not. Romano 1987.

3 2 . Many cases . 407a8–c2). whereas in Proclus’ other commentaries they hardly do. see. 15. The reporter may also decide to insert a little monograph by his professor that exceeds the length of the average note and that is not preceded by . The commentary breaks off mid-sentence in the discussion of the name of the goddess Athena (cf.e. which may be compared to Proclus In Crat. the remark to that extent by Pasquali 1908: VI. Likewise. §§ I 207–252. around 90 %. a monograph on the argument from opposites in the Phaedo. Cf. with . 4 Pasquali 1908: vi–vii. of notes start with .19 and passim. Romano 1987: 113. i. 5 Cf. In Phd. “[Proclus says] that …”. The commentary thus μ ) from notes ( ) consists of ‘useful excerpts’ ( taken by a student who attended Proclus’ seminar on the Cratylus. e.5 It does not necessarily indicate that the former belonged to the circle of Ammonius. see Lamberz 1987: 5–6.g.94 chapter four 2. which too consists of a series of notes most of which begin is absent in the case of questions. his afÀliation does On .2 It is for this reason that the vast majority.. Damascius In Phd. Even though they apparently follow the text of the Cratylus. e. Proclus’ notes on the Cratylus Any reader accustomed to Proclus’ carefully and elegantly composed commentaries and treatises who comes to the Commentary on the Cratylus for the Àrst time is likely to feel disappointed: the most extensive discussion of the Cratylus from Antiquity appears to consist of a series of garbled notes. I do not believe that the absence of in the remaining 10 % of the cases necessarily indicates that these notes are not by Proclus. I § 10. which can hardly be introduced by Commentary on the Phaedo. in Damascius’ concern questions.. Even if he did. a monograph on divine names.4 He calls attention to the fact that same agreement of plural subjects and their verbs also occurs in the commentaries produced by Ammonius and his students. see. To my mind this shows at best that the text of the Commentary on the Cratylus was not written down by the same person who committed the other commentaries to writing. LXXI. the title Commentary on the Cratylus is misleading and for clarity’s sake it would perhaps be better to stick to the title that we Ànd in the MSS: .g. In fact. it is by no means always clear how exactly they relate to the Cratylus or to each other. Crat.3 Both the identity of the student who took the notes and that of the compiler of the present selection—if these are two different persons at all—will probably remain unknown forever. Pasquali notes that in the Commentary on the Cratylus neuter plural subjects very frequently agree with their verbs.

At the heart of it lies. as we shall see. XXII–LXIX). Proclus next uses Socrates’ account of how the dialectician and the name-giver produce naturally correct names to explore the metaphysical dimensions of the act of name-giving. These deal with such of the work. serious interference on the part of an anonymous editor seems unlikely. imitate the activities of gods.7 These prolegomena already provide us with the essentials of Proclus’ interpretation of the Cratylus. pp. the prolegomena to the commentary. 1999: 35–46 who distinguish three parts: i. thus giving air to his anti-Aristotelianism. 34 for the Commentary on the Cratylus). Correctness of the names that depend on generation (In Crat. its ‘character’. from the fact that the commentary has a clear structure and unity. Álvarez Hoz et al. Proclus assumes that Socrates’ refutation of Hermogenes’ thesis that names have a conventional correctness only. see the exhaustive study by Mansfeld 1994. The structure of the commentary can be summarized as follows: i. but very unlike Ammonius and his school. LXX–CLXXXV). As we shall see. ii. This hostile attitude towards the Stagirite is very characteristic of the Athenian Neoplatonists. 28–37 for Proclus’ commentaries on Plato (and p. 7 On these prolegomena. Proclus’ conviction that the views of Hermogenes and Cratylus concerning the correctness of language are not contradictory but complementary. The human dialectician and name-giver. . Proclus identiÀes Hermogenes’ position with that of Aristotle. esp. ii. I–XXI). the part of the commentary that covers the discussion with Hermogenes. The ability of the human soul to give naturally correct names thus hints at its 6 Cf.the correctness of names 95 not appear from the content of the commentary. Proclus’ treatment of the etymologies of divine names. the commentary systematically opposes Aristotle’s views to those of Plato and severely criticizes these. More in general. consists in three arguments in ascending order of importance against the thesis that the correctness of names is purely conventional.6 The prolegomena consist of a set of questions with which Neoplatonic commentaries as a rule begin their commentaries. it appears. and the interpretation issues as the of the role of the dramatis personae of the dialogue. iii. and systematically turns these into arguments against Aristotle’s semantic theory. iii. Names of the gods (In Crat. Prooemium (In Crat.

whole. He had after all included the dialogue on his list of twelve dialogues that became the standard core curriculum of late Neo-Platonism. I): the correctness of names and the human soul Iamblichus had famously posited that each Platonic dialogue has one or aim. I shall primarily focus on the topic of the correctness of names and the manner in which it is treated in what is roughly the Àrst part of the commentary. . Ànally. 1–9). through the correctness of the names [that they give]. In this chapter. We do not know what he made of the even though he must have given the matter some thought. μ μ μ μ μ μ . About Proclus’ own views we are much better informed. I p. . The aim of the Cratylus is to demonstrate the generative activity and assimilative power of souls at the lowest levels of reality. In this way the Cratylus reveals us something about ourselves. In chapter six. . I shall investigate Proclus’ use of the etymologies from the Cratylus.1 μ μ . which uniÀes its various parts into an organic central of the Cratylus.96 chapter four divine powers. He thus takes the etymological section seriously and tries to interpret the etymologies of divine names in such a way that they are consistent with his own Neoplatonic theology. 4. I shall focus on correct name-giving and dialectic and what it tells us about the human soul. I shall in dealing with these topics pay much attention to the details of Proclus’ arguments. T. The ( In Crat. From the foregoing discussion Proclus concludes that there exist naturally correct names. Since Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus has hardly been studied in detail. In the next chapter. μ . 3. for he discusses the of the Cratylus right at the beginning of his commentary. 1. They demonstrate this power. as one might well expect him to do. In this way I shall combine a detailed study of Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus and his interpretation of the dialogue with a more thematic treatment. which they have as part of their nature. μ μ μ (In Crat.

about certain powers and activities of our souls by studying the issue of the correctness of names. 9 Cf. Proclus In Parm. e.the correctness of names 97 But since. prop. when we leave naming to the unphilosophical masses. He assumes that Plato’s aim with the Cratylus is to make us discover something about ourselves. 125. Proclus has here naturally correct names in mind. however. i. as opposed to more divine types of souls who may be found .g. In his Commentary on the Cratylus. . i. μ is active ( ). IV 864. For the expression p. cf. According to Proclus.e. and to assume that not all names are the offspring of intellectual knowledge and aim at kinship to the things. Instead of dedicating themselves completely to philosophical speculation of intelligible reality. see pp.8 Our ability to coin correct names reveals the generative activity and assimilative power of the human soul. El. they are often distracted by the material universe. it is reasonable to allow for names which are undeÀned and which circulate by chance and spontaneously too.9 Our souls do not always function as they should.e. just as particular nature does. not as indivisible. they strive to be like the things to which they refer.g.. On the one hand. i. they will not always base the names that they give on the knowledge that results from philosophical speculation. Proclus compares this failure to make correct names to the fact that particular nature repeatedly fails to do what it 8 The phrase “at the lowest levels of reality” indicates that Proclus here has the embodied souls in mind. we shall only apprehend things as particulars. i. on many occasions. for he says that these are the “offspring of intellectual knowledge”. but we shall fail to notice their universal cause. 140. Because of this. e... their proper end. this is precisely where Hermogenes goes wrong. If this power happens to be sense-perception we shall apprehend the nature of things as divisible and enmattered. this is due to the divided activity of our souls. 23–28: the human soul may be divided into various powers of apprehension. they are based on our knowledge of metaphysical entities and aim at the “kinship to the things”. This is in line with Proclus’ quarrel with Porphyry in his Commentary on the Parmenides about the question whether names are by nature or by convention.e.. This happens especially. 98–102 below. the divisible activity of souls fails its proper ends. at higher levels of reality. How we apprehend reality depends on the power that μ . Proclus admits that not all names are correct by nature. the terrestial regions (μ ).e. 1–3: the powers of the gods taking their origin above proceed to “the lowest levels of reality. Proclus says in the Commentary on the Parmenides. The Àrst thing that catches the eye is that Proclus interprets the Cratylus not as a dialogue about language but as a psychological dialogue.

Hermogenes.1 Socrates as umpire (In Crat. of course. 6: ) in ancient commentaries. LXXXVIII p. and those among souls. and others by imposition. he accepts that names refer back to their objects. X) Leaving for the moment Proclus’ discussion of the logical character of the dialogue aside.2 That now (Crat. They are. whereas as far as the matter is concerned. judging the matter ( ). 7. they participate more in imposition. for those that are not by nature are not names at all. just as we say that a liar does not say anything. LXXXVIII). which rectiÀes failures on the part of particular nature. Two characters: two classes of things. we next come to another standard element of the prolegomena of a Neoplatonic commentary. .98 chapter four should. cf. such as ‘Batieia’. X–XIV) 4. who. For the names in the case of eternal beings ( ) rather partake in nature. Furthermore. on the other hand. In his conversation with Cratylus. and as far as the form is concerned. 4. Proclus will work out the relation between failed names and failed products of nature in greater detail. 5–8. And when talking to Hermogenes he distinguishes between the names that are Àrmly established among the gods. 44. And thirdly. where Proclus opposes it to ). interpreted . as if they had come into existence by chance. such as ‘Murine’ and the like. who on the contrary said that no name whatsoever is by nature. whereas the names in the case of perishable things ( ) rather partake in chance. demonstrated that some of the names are by nature. 127–128. there is Socrates.10 4. It reads: T. For the man who called his own child ‘Athanasius’ exposes the failure of the names of the latter. names have form and matter. Cratylus. but he demonstrates that there is also a strong element of chance 10 See pp. 4. but that all names are by imposition ( ). and characters ( Socrates and the roles that they play. they participate more in nature.11 In Crat. Mansfeld 1994: 12 n. complete nature 11 On the (allegorical) interpretation of the dramatis personae (In Crat. the discussion of the ) of the dialogue. The expression ‘particular nature’ ( μ ) occurs only twice in Proclus: here and in In Crat. two types of names ( In Crat. X is a sizable trunk of such a in the light of the discussion and will thus serve as our starting point. Later on in the Commentary (In Crat. X p. furthermore Hermogenes the Socratic. 383a) the characters ( ) are presented: Cratylus the Heracleitean—of whom Plato too was a student—who said that all names are by nature ( ).

Damascius Pr. Proclus In Parm. see. see D’Ancona 2000 esp. 25. X p. The Athenian Neoplatonists philosophy by means of puzzles or adopted this as one of their methods of doing philosophy. The former are by nature. 2 ed. and at the same time that not all objects are moving (In Crat. Such an approach would have been foreign to Proclus’ conviction that all elements of the dialogue work towards a single aim. that of Hermogenes or Cratylus. p. and that therefore these examples are probably an anti-Christian jibe. Syrianus. 15 The name ‘Athanasius’ as an example of an ill-suited name recurs in Proclus In Crat. for two opposite views like an impartial umpire ( instance. VII 1174.the correctness of names 99 in names.12 This interpretation of Socrates as a judge reÁects the way in which the Athenian Neoplatonists approached philosophical questions. 81. distinguishing between eternal and perishable objects. 5.14 To these two classes of things correspond two types of names. p. 13 12 . 6–24). 4. 5. For a discussion of this passage. Westerink-Combès. already Plato and especially Aristotle had practiced . Hirschle 1979: 10 n.. having become some sort of impartial and unbiased umpire of opposing arguments. He assumes that the positions of Hermogenes and Cratylus’ complement each other. comments on the most famous collection of aporiai in Antiquity. in order that. will not fail to notice that Proclus does not present the two positions as mutual exclusive. 4. the latter by imposition. also Proclus In Crat. 313 whose article informs my discussion. this time together with the names ‘Ambrosius’ and ‘Poluchronius’.g. 14–16 ed. he (Aristotle) shows that it beÀts the philosopher to raise puzzles.3 On the basis of these considerations. 20–27. e. As the example of the man who calls his mortal child Athanasius indicates. 17–76. 5–10 for Socrates as umpire. 18. XIII p. I 17 p. LI p.15 Proclus derives Cf. the aporetic method consisted in examining an issue by comparing ). the exact term will be of importance of judge or umpire ( in what follows below) to make them aware of that fact. he selects the one most in harmony with the true doctrine (Syrianus In Metaph. Kroll). In Crat.13 Socrates “acting like an umpire ( ) divides the things in a scientific manner”. B as follows: T. 19 observes that ‘Ambrosius’ and ‘Athanasius’ are well-known Christian names. Aristotle Metaph. As is well known. 75. 5–10. Anyone acquainted with the many modern studies on the Cratylus that try to establish whose side Plato is really on. They need Socrates as some sort . 14 Cf. XIII p. In their view. For other examples from the Athenian school of philosophers creating an aporia and then setting themselves up as an umpire of the two opposing arguments.

it sufÀces to note that when he comments on this passage. Proclus derives the term chance from Socrates’ remark that Orestes owed his Àtting name either to chance or to some poet. There. there is neither demonstration by means that in the case of the μ .17 In the present context. only the names of eternal beings can be (naturally) correct. 17 Cf. Normally. but there is more to it. His argument for doing so is that parents do not try to give their children appropriate names. It is. APo. The same distinction between the correctly established names of eternal gods and the names given by chance to perishable men can be found in Hierocles In CA XXV. only a small step from in the Cratylus to . a passage that we shall discuss in more detail below. Yet. . It is also no coincidence that in T. The / is not found in Plato. knowledge of eternal beings. nor Names of individuals are thus a matter of chance ( ). as opposed to the case of the . 394e8–11. i. Socrates suggests to Hermogenes that they should better leave aside the names of heroes and human beings. 4. “the turns his investigations to the names of eternal beings that are by nature”. permanent. like ‘Eutuxides’.e. What makes perishable things different from eternal ones is that we can only have real. ‘Sosias’ and ‘Theophilus’. These names are therefore not very likely to be naturally correct and Socrates thus . 16 Arist. of course. Proclus had already hinted at this in his . 75b24: μ . unchanging. where he distinguished between names that discussion of the are the product of knowledge and those that circulate ‘by chance’. it is standard pair Neoplatonic terminology that goes back on Aristotle. Since correct names are supposed to express the name-giver’s knowledge of the nature of things. Plato Crat. but note that these names are also very appropriate illustrations of ill-Àtting names for perishable things. who had observed .100 chapter four this distinction between two classes of objects and two corresponding types of names from Plato Crat. instead. 397a5–397c1.16 of syllogism.2 Proclus talks about and . Proclus starts with the now familiar division between two types of names: those that belong to the eternal things “and that have clearly been established in accordance with This may well be so. children are named after their ancestors or they are given names that express some kind of wish.

Plato would say of them as of those persons in the Gorgias (467a ff. It is intended as corroboration of his interpretation of the positions of Cratylus and Hermogenes that we have just studied.20 For. Proclus indicates that he is a scientiÀc ( ) is for good things only. Steel kindly suggested to me). and things that we can neither know in such a manner nor name correctly. 27–32. μ ) person. 4–5. and not the wise. 5. Proclus In Crat. 4. instead of Cousin. thus Proclus.21 adds somewhat cryptically. LXXXVIII p. 19 18 . IV 852.) who “don’t do what they want ( μ )”.the correctness of names 101 μ ) and those names that belong to the perishable science” ( things. LXXXVIII p. In Crat. 42. 22 Cf. 27–43. 383a1–2).1 above. trans. Cf. chapter three § 5. XIV p. after Morrow-Dillon 1987: 221). 11–17 and 21–22 for the explanation of why is the mark of a scientiÀc mind. this is even the Àrst word of the entire dialogue: (Crat. 6. 20 In fact. . 4. i. For. the art of predicting somebody’s character from looking at his facial characteristics etc. not as they want ( ) (In Parm. In corroboration of his interpretation of the roles that Cratylus and Hermogenes play in the argument.2 Cratylus and Hermogenes: science and opinion Like modern students of Plato.e. μ 21 In Crat. already The Àrst word spoken to Cratylus.4 And if we suppose that the multitude. physiognomy. Proclus In Crat. yields only vague conclusions.18 Agamemnon could not possibly have known the future life of his son. IV about naming22 helps to clarify this remark: T. Proclus assumes that form follows content.19 Such a remark may amuse us. 23 Reading μ (as C. Proclus calls attention to the way in which Plato introduces Cratylus and Hermogenes at the beginning of the dialogue is a good illustration in point. “especially in the case of newborns”.. but it brings home the essential point: there are things that we can know in a scientiÀc manner and hence name correctly. 43.23 that they assign names as they seem best to them ( ). are the legislators of names. Cf. ‘will’ ( A passage from the discussion in In Parm. Proclus explains.

does not care for the particulars. 4. 10. but fails to regard the eternal things”.102 chapter four Thus Cratylus as a scientist holds that things have objective essences of their own and that names should bring these out. belongs to those people “who assign )”. words addressed to him in the dialogue hint at this: ‘ 383a3). I assume. but only for the universal (cf.. Proclus In Crat.26 All he sees is the endless variety of particular things. only of μ μ ). e. his extreme scientiÀc outlook blinds him to the fact that not all things are objects of scientiÀc knowledge. XIV p.g. 106–109 below.. see. 24 Cf. to understand the true nature of naming.g. ( ( 21–22 for the fact that particulars cannot be the object of science. The reason for this is. see In Crat. 6–12 commenting on Plato Crat. 1–4 (Cratylus believes that the production of these images requires scientiÀc knowledge). 22 (names as images of objects) and 8. Proclus In Crat. Proclus In Parm. but only in names that are objectively good. since and and material are kindred faculties of the soul. draws attention to the Àrst words of Hermogenes in the dialogue.. a names as seems best to them ( comes along. e. On this passage see further pp. 19–30 for a comparable interpretation of Socrates as nous. e. whereas 391b9–c5: Hermogenes is analogous to “irrational his brother Callias. Cf. XXIX p. The Àrst man who is easily inÁuenced by whatever ’ (Crat. also Proclus In Crat. too. It is interesting to note that Socrates is considered to . with that desires the good”. 27 See. it is because a philosopher has better things to do than waist his time on puffed up Heracleiteans. he denies can only be the object of that there is such a thing as naturally correct names. In Crat. not of μ . .24 As far as naming is concerned. e. p. LXVII p. XXII (the true philosopher does not want to waist his time on these people). since he sees the Forms and declares them to others. Hermogenes. 11. he is not a very good scientist. I 628. 11. his interest is not in whatever name that may please us. that it takes someone be analogous to intellect. He is of course wrong in his Heracleitean belief that everything is in Áux.g. XVII esp.. 17–20. 29. who knows the real objects of name giving..g. on the other hand. X p. 25 See. In Crat. the philosopher. Proclus comments elsewhere. the Forms. For the identiÀcation of Hermogenes . Sadly enough for Cratylus. 1f.: Hermogenes “only sees the particulars ). XXX p. Baxter 1992: 17–18. Modern scholarship too pays attention to the por. 26 See In Crat. If Socrates does not treat Cratylus too harshly. He is a person. XXXIII p. trayal of Hermogenes as a man occupied with who. 7. who spent his money on sophists like Protagoras represents bodily (apparently because of his money). 20–22). cf. 5. which .25 Moreover. 23–4 (Cratylus wrongly believes that everything is in Áux) and In Crat. on the other hand.27 Therefore.

. Proclus mentions Pythagoras and Epicurus. Already Aristotle had mined the philosophical traditions in search for opposing arguments in order to construct their aporiai. says about it this at the beginning of his commentary on the Metaphysics: T. p. 5.29 The latter two make an odd couple and Proclus will later on explain that Epicurus’ sense of ‘by nature’ differs from that of Pythagoras. see Saffrey 1990 (1987) and D’Ancona 2000. A historical excursus ( In Crat. like Cratylus in the dialogue. They are here opposed to the logical Aristotle. This method even determined their attitude towards Aristotle as such. acting as an “umpire of opposing arguments” (T. XVI p.the correctness of names 5. the Athenian Neoplatonists were well aware that Aristotle clashed with Plato on many occasions. Proclus 28 On what this passage tells us about the attitude of the Athenian school towards Aristotle. 25–26. at their turn.5 When someone wants to call us … an umpire ( ) between the simpler and more intellectual intellections of the epoptic contemplation of the followers of Pythagoras and the more logical puzzles raised against these by the one who in this Àeld is the strongest of those who have ever studied it. XVI–XVII) 103 In Crat. They interpreted these clashes as aporetic puzzles about which they had to pronounce judgement. 9–13 ed. 4. he adopts a well-tried method of philosophical investigation. The Athenian Neoplatonists. When we now turn to the historical excursus in the Commentary of the Cratylus. As we have seen in the previous chapter. we Ànd that Proclus likewise acts as an umpire who judges the doctrines about names of various philosophers. 81. Among the philosophers who. 4. proceeded likewise. which he connects to the positions represented by Hermogenes and Cratylus. In doing so. Aristotle. who appears to have played a crucial role in the development of this strategy.3).). For Aristotle’s own account of the aporetic method. 29 In Crat. XVI–XVII Proclus places the issue of the correctness of names in a historical perspective. we shall not try to escape the imposition of this name (Syrianus In Metaph. Syrianus.28 The ‘followers of Pythagoras’ here represent the divinely inspired Platonic tradition that was believed to originate from Pythagoras. see the excellent discussion in Politis 2004: 64–75. claim that names are by nature. Kroll.

31 … And just as over there the intelligible. the Intellect (Nous) and intellection are one and the same. … Therefore. Therefore names are by nature (In Crat. So.. XVI p. according to this passage. when asked what is the wisest of all things. 32 In Crat. 30 . e. Forms) as it were. And Soul is not the things themselves in the primary manner in which Nous is these. Proclus assumes that this corresponds to the views of Aristotle and the atomist Democritus. Pythagoras says. Kahn 2001: 62). naming is not the task of just anybody. Soul emanates from Intellect.g. likewise names imitate the intellectual Forms.2. they are indirect imitations of the Forms themselves. 5. 16 ff. Proclus informs us. 259. the correct names are images of these. As we have seen in chapter three. “And what comes second in wisdom?” “He who gave the things their names. as can be glanced from. see Ademollo 2003. but of the one who focuses on the intellect and the nature of the beings. 987b7–13 and was propagated by Plato’s own pupils like Xenocrates (cf. but it has images of these and discursive . i. 27–6. The akousma is further mentioned by Iamblichus VP 82. 26–27. statues of the beings (viz.g. said “Number”. devised a set of four possible arguments in support of the convention hypothesis (Proclus In Crat. e. Since properly speaking.. 17):33 Apart from In Alc.. in the same manner are number and wisdom the same over there. XVI pp. And through ‘the name-giver’ he hinted at Soul. Soul does not contain the Forms . XVI pp.. but images of these. the Pythagorean number refers to the realm of the Platonic Forms and the divine Intellect (Nous). the Numbers. As for Hermogenes’ position that names are just a matter of convention. I 276. Needless to say that this passage tells us more about Proclus’ views on names than about those of the historical Pythagoras. Intellect coincides with its intellections. 20–7. 5. discussed in chapter three § 5. 4. 19).e. Aristotle Meta. which exists as a product of Nous. 33 For a thorough discussion of this section. Proclus also refers to the same akousma in In Tim. 6.6 For Pythagoras. 31 The identiÀcation of Platonic Forms with Pythagorean Numbers can be dated back to the earliest days of the Academy.104 chapter four reconstructs Pythagoras’ view by interpreting the Pythagorean akousma that we have already come across in the Commentary on the Alcibiades:30 T. the Forms.” And through “number” he hinted at the intelligible cosmos that contains the multitude of intellectual Forms.32 The latter.

XVI p. (‘to inspect what one has seen’) refers to man’s inquiring nature (cf.e. The different names of one and the same thing refer to different from aspects of that thing. different things bearing the 1. What Democritus meant by it is by no means certain. 3. but the Neoplatonists understand it in the following way: if names resemble their objects like images. An argument based on μ e. Sedley 2003: 21–23. e. An argument based on the similars): if names are natural. points out that the story of Plato changing his name is an indication that he took the natural correctness of names as presented in the Cratylus seriously. how can it also suit an altogether different thing? μ . Some now deÀcient forms of words did originally exist but have gone missing over time. from the noun .. An argument based on μ same name: if a name naturally suits one thing. 2. . the word has been derived from μ when it denotes physical love and when it denotes the philosophical love of beauty (cf. i. XVIII. but that a similar e. 7. 34 Interestingly.e. What seems to be the same name is in fact two names.34 4. 238c and 252b–c). 6) to contradict Democritus: counterarguments of 1. An argument based on having different names. the verb is absent? derivation from the noun Proclus was not the Àrst to discuss Democritus’ arguments for he relies of the (In Crat.g. : why are names changed—.g. 3. i.g. whereas μ inspect what one has seen’) refers to the fragmented state of his soul.g.. one and the same thing 2. with a reference to Proclus In Crat.the correctness of names 105 μ . e. 399c). how is it possible that we derive. from ‘Aristocles’ into ‘Plato’ and from ‘Tyrtamus’ into ‘Theophrastes’—if names belong naturally to their objects? μ (deÀciency of 4. one would assume that any object has one name. just as all images of a person look more or less the same. from μ μ μ (‘to Crat. from Plato Phdr. The very fact that we change names shows that some names are according to the nature of the bearer and others contrary to it and hence need to be changed.

μ . any blow dealt to Hermogenes’ thesis is at the same time one dealt to Aristotle. some sort of appendix to his historical excursus in In Crat. XVI. XVI groups Cratylus together with Pythagoras and Epicurus. 18–22: < > μ μ . This does not mean that he fails to notice that the natural correctness of names discussed in the Cratylus is something altogether different from Epicurus’ theory of the natural origin of language.1). 6. avails himself of counterarguments one and two. Since Hermogenes in fact represents Aristotle. As we have already seen. μ . we shall Ànd later on in this chapter that the points that Proclus believes Socrates to score against Hermogenes are translated into refutations of remarks by Aristotle on the nature of names in De Interpretatione. Thus one may say that Socrates. Proclus in In Crat. Proclus in his refutation of Porphyry’s Aristotelian semantic theory in the Commentary on the Parmenides (chapter three § 5. he goes to some length to dispel any possible confusion about the various senses in which things can be . the impartial umpire who judges the merits of Hermogenes’ arguments against Cratylus’ position is analogous to the Neoplatonic philosopher Proclus who examines the merits of Aristotle’s position against that of Pythagoras. XVII. XVII) As we just mentioned. XVII pp. those of 35 In Crat. Epicurus and the two meanings of ( In Crat. And indeed.35 He distinguishes the following four cases of being said to be . More important still is the fact that this identiÀcation helps us to appreciate a somewhat curious element of Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus: the sustained attacks on Aristotle. In In Crat.106 chapter four The identiÀcation of Democritus’ position with that of Aristotle and that of Hermogenes plays an important role in Proclus’ dealings with the issue of the correctness of names. 7.

X where Socrates distinguishes two ways in which a craftsman ) may produce things. water. He may either simply get hold of a ( μ mirror and carry it around. Proclus’ criticism of Aristotle’s claim that logoi are meaningful by convention not by nature in In Crat.g. 596d7–e2). or he may produce something after a Form. From the fact that Proclus refers to the lightness of Àre as an example of the natural powers of the natural things when discussing the second sense of ‘being by nature’. e. to be discussed below. I 342. thus producing reÁections of whatever he happens to come across (R. also applies to the attributes that belong to these because of what they are. Phys. B 1 where Aristotle discusses the ways in which the term in terms of an innate cause of movement: used. Hardie and Gay). which should be distinguished from natural imitations (shadows and the like. Ph. see p. XLIX. As we have seen. As we shall see. in virtue of itself and not accidentally” (Ph. Themistius comments that . artiÀcial images which resemble their archetypes. 123).g. Proclus derives this subdivision from Plato R. I assume) and . 24 where the perceptible copies of Forms (hence Aristotle’ natural things) are said to be products of nature. e. water). there is also another. shadows or reÁections in mirrors. 20–344. 38 Cf. B 1. 39 Same divison in Proclus In Tim. a carpenter may produce a bed after the Form bed. trans.37 Aristotle thus applies the term primarily to animals and plants and their parts or to simple bodies (earth. 37 Aristotle opposes nature to other causes of movement. 192b20–23. and air to the list of natural things of the Àrst type. Secondly. however. for example the property of Àre to be carried upwards. According to Proclus. sense : that of images that are after nature. the term . and (cf. Ross 1936: 499. B 1 who in addition to the plants and animals and parts of these also adds simple bodies like earth.38 Proclus distinguishes of between two types of images: spontaneously generated images and artiÀcially created images. Aristotle deÀnes ) and of being “nature is a principle or cause of being moved ( at rest in that to which it belongs primarily. the lightness and heath of Àre. Proclus here follows Arist. Proclus considers these three factors to be the driving forces behind naming and indeed it will appear that he does not hold names to be natural in the Aristotelian sense. it seems likely that in his original discussion he had mentioned these simple bodies as well. Proclus derives the Àrst two types of “being by nature” from Aristotle is Ph. Paraphrasis 35. 6). . Àre. Platonic.36 activities and powers of these.39 36 The excerptor has probably omitted a third instance of these natural things.the correctness of names (1) (2) (3) (4) 107 complete plants and animals or parts of these. Àre air. according to Aristotle. referring to Themistius In these are Arist.

Cratylus in the third. These names were thus imposed “without knowledge”. Sheppard has argued that we should assume that in the second sense. 8. 42 It is for this reason that I do not accept the emendation of this text proposed by Sheppard 1987: 148–149. this passage from the Republic must have seem particularly relevant to him. qualiÀcation.108 chapter four Given that Proclus takes the craft of making names and its μ very seriously in his Commentary on the Cratylus. 1–4: μ μ μ μ . Echoing the Aristotelian deÀnition of nature as an innate cause of movement. mooing. and Socrates Epicurus understands in the fourth. at least to some extent. According to the to the MSS. On Ammonius and his interpretation of the Cratylus. and Socrates in the fourth.42 Socrates too. 41 In Crat. wishes to harmonize Aristotle’s semantic theory with that of Plato.40 Proclus contrasts Epicurus’ theory of natural names to that of Cratylus. 201–205. since Ammonius. Whereas Cratylus holds works of art. not of some natural urge. The editor of the text. barking and sighing”. when he says that names are ‘by nature’. important. Pasquali. by pointing out that Cratylus holds that each thing has its proper name since it was imposed properly by the Àrst namegivers “with skill and knowledge. Socrates is thus in agreement with Cratylus on this issue. characterized in the dialogue as a scientiÀc person. I shall argue. In order to clarify his point. Epicurus understands in the Àrst sense. XVII p. X. sneezing. adopted an emendation by H. right in claiming that there exists a natural correctness of names. Cratylus in the second. 4–7: × μ μ . μ μ μ . G. 8. Proclus once again refers to the discussion in Plato R. 40 In Crat. while Cratylus and according to which Epicurus understands Socrates understand it in the fourth. Usener in the second sense. “of the human soul that uses its imagination”.”41 Cratylus is after all. are “naturally moved” ( just as in the case of such naturals sounds like “coughing. differs from that of Proclus. However. thus Proclus. be it with one. . Epicurus is said to have hold that people μ ) to produce language. see further pp. Something has in the evidently go wrong here for it is clear that Epicurus actually understand second sense. She does so on the basis of the interpretation of Cratylus’ position by Proclus’ student Ammonius in his commentary on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione. means ‘by nature’ in the fourth sense. contrary to Proclus. XVII p. Names are “the offspring of thought and of knowledge”. Ammonius’ interpretation of the Cratylus. holds that names are ‘by nature’ in the Aristotelian sense. this reading of the text sits ill with the fact that Proclus explicitly presents Cratylus as a scientiÀc person who is. has we have seen above. Epicurus.

the correctness of names 109 that names are natural as such. In Crat. and knowledge of the craft ( . p. As we have seen in of the dialogue. X p. Proclus turns to the interpretation of Hermogenes’ discussion with Socrates. natural names of eternal. not qua matter. Proclus In Crat. it is because it is crucial to his overall interpretation of the Cratylus. 4. μ . 8. 8–14. 24–25: someone who wants to imitate something μ ). The fact that we are able to coin suitable.1 Hermogenes’ position After these prolegomena. I p. According to Hermogenes. μ . Proclus does not want his reader to confuse the Epicurean theory of the natural origin of names. 4.43 If Proclus dwells on this difference between Epicurus’ theory of natural names and that of Cratylus and Socrates. with the Platonic theory of the natural correctness of names according to which correct names are coined by a skillful person equipped with philosophical knowledge. the fact that naming is a craft connects us to the divine Craftsman from the Timaeus. 3. 7–8 = (cf.44 7. i.e. Proclus believes that the our discussion of the aim of the dialogue is to promote self-knowledge. 8. metaphysical entities shows that we are capable of knowledge of these entities and that we are in some way related to these (in keeping with the Àrst principle of Platonic epistemology that like is known by like). (cf. Moreover. XVI p. 11: the soul makes names aided by its verbal μ μ μ μ . Socrates’ discussion with Hermogenes: the natural correctness of names 7. which excludes any form of intelligent design. LI p.2).1: μ ). knowledge of the archetype ( ) needs a twofold knowledge ( μ ). In Crat. not qua sound. In Crat. we can give anything any name that we please. In sum. 16–18 = T. As he puts it at the beginning of the Cratylus: 43 In Crat. XX. 4. μ T. 19. μ ) . Socrates argues that they are only natural qua form. 44 Cf. μ μ μ μ (cf.


chapter four
T. 4.7 I believe that any name you give a thing is its correct name. If you change its name (μ ) and give it another, the new one is as correct as the old, like when we change (μ μ ) the names of our domestic slaves (Crat. 384 d 2–5; trans. Reeve adapted).

Proclus recognizes in Hermogenes’ reason for assuming that names are (cf. § 5 correct by convention Democritus’ argument from μ above). He paraphrases Hermogenes’ words as follows:
T. 4.8 If there is μ of names, names are by convention ( and symbols of the things. Now the Àrst is the case, and hence the second follows (In Crat. XXX p. 10, 23–26). )

Proclus responds by launching the standard counterargument: if names . He takes were just conventional, there would be no need for μ would not occur this to imply that if there was no need for it, μ at all. On this assumption he reduces Hermogenes’ argument to an , there is no μ .45 This reductio absurdity: if there is μ ad absurdum is, of course, incorrect. From the fact that there is no need , it does not follow that it does not occur. In fact, as we for μ occurs frequently in shall see shortly, Proclus assumes that μ the case of the names of individuals, precisely because these names are to a large extent conventional. Be that as it may, Proclus now concludes that
T. 4.9 Therefore, the followers of Hermogenes speak badly: for they only look at the particulars ( ), but not at the eternal things ( ) also. For even the names of the eternal things are divine and venerable, like statues of the gods, on which the powers and activities of the gods have been impressed. These are the names that Socrates in the Philebus (12c) reveres and holds in respect “beyond the greatest fear” (In Crat. XXX p. 11, 1–6).

This is an interesting passage. We have already seen that, according to Proclus, Hermogenes fails to take notice of the names of eternal beings. Since eternal beings, in contrast to individuals, can be known, it is possible to give them appropriate names. But why should we assume that these names are indeed correct by nature, especially if these eternal beings turn out to be gods? What difference is there between the name of Hermogenes and that of Hermes? If we can change the former as

In Crat. XXX pp. 10, 29–11, 1.

the correctness of names


we please, why couldn’t we change the latter likewise? Proclus’ point is that the names of the gods are unlike the names of mortal human beings. It is one thing for Hermogenes, Diodorus Cronus and others to rename their slaves as they please, no matter how ridiculous these names may be (cf. T. 3.10), it is quite another to rename the gods. The ancient Greeks would never think of changing these on a whim, even though Iamblichus had accused them of doing precisely that.46 As in many other cultures, the Greeks had an immense respect for everything that belonged to the divine, including the names of the gods and their statues to which Proclus here compares the names of the gods.47 In Greek religion, the statues of the gods were treated as if they were the gods themselves. One has only to think of the rituals of bathing, clothing and feeding statues, such as that of Athena Polias in Athens. This identiÀcation of the deity with its statue continued down to Proclus’ own days, as is illustrated by the eagerness of the Christian authorities to remove the statue of Athena from the Parthenon and Proclus’ countermeasure by turning his own home into a shrine and thus a home for the goddess. The reason for this identiÀcation is precisely that the statues resemble the gods: they show the powers and activities μ ), just of the gods which have been impressed upon them ( as one makes an imprint with a seal in wax. Proclus’ point, which he will make later on in the Commentary more fully, is that the names are like the statues of the gods in that they too resemble the gods. They in the Platonic sense discussed above.48 are thus The argument may carry little conviction for us moderns, but in a discussion with fellow Neoplatonists, who were all very religious people, it may have been effective enough against people like Porphyry who held that all names are a matter of convention. As we have seen, Porphyry, even though he subscribed to Aristotle’s semantic theory, had written a work on the meaning of the statues of the gods in which he also analyzed their names.49 He thus implicitly admitted that divine names at in the sense of the least are images of their objects and hence are

See pp. 80–81. Damascius ascribes this argument to a certain Democritus (probably the Platonist, certainly not the Atomist), see p. 211 n. 34. 48 Cf. Proclus Theol. Plat. I 29 p. 125, 3–8 where Proclus quotes once again the passage from the Philebus and comments that Socrates’ respect for divine names is justiÀed μ ). because they are the ultimate echoes of the gods ( 49 On Porphyry, see pp. 74–75.



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Cratylus. It has been noted that the explicit comparison of divine names to divine statues only appears in the works of Athenian Neoplatonists from Hierocles onwards, but not before.50 This is, I assume, because they, in their defense of the Platonic semantic theory, picked up on an already existent tradition among Platonists of interpreting sacred divine names and statues and turned it into an argument for the Platonic position that names are natural and like images of their objects. Divine names belong to the category of names of eternal things, and what goes for divine names, goes, therefore, for names of eternal things in general. 7.2. Three arguments against Hermogenes (In Crat. XXXIII)

Having refuted Hermogenes’ position himself, Proclus now turns to the actual refutation of Hermogenes by Socrates in the Cratylus. He assumes that Socrates refutes Hermogenes with three arguments of increasing argument, the second importance: the Àrst is a so-called ) argument, whereas the third is one is called a compelling ( ).51 that leads to complete persuasion ( What are these for sort of arguments and where does Proclus locate argument is literally an argument them in the text? An that makes one feel ashamed, apparently of what one has said oneself. means (cf. L.-S.-J.: According to Hesychius, “refutative, of indirect modes of proof such as the reductio ad absurdum”). This description Àts the various occurrences of the word in the ancient commentators well. Philoponus In Phys. 96, 8–10, for instance, describes μ as an argument not based on the nature of an the things under discussion, but as one directed against one’s opponent. Proclus uses it in his Commentary on the Parmenides, when young Socrates is forced to draw the absurd conclusion from what he has just said himself that a Form is divided.52 Since this type of argument does not depend on the nature of things, but on the words of the opponents, it is often used as a Àrst argument, intended to make the other think over his position again.53 The other two arguments, on the other hand, argue not against Hermogenes’ position but in favor of the opposite thesis, i.e. that names are by nature.

Hirschle 1979: 39 ff. Proclus In Crat. XXXIII p. 11, 15–23. 52 See Proclus In Parm. IV 866, 11, translated by Morrow & Dillon as ‘shocking’. 53 Cf., apart from the passages mentioned above, also Olympiodorus In Grg. 9. 2 and 3; Jackson, Lycos & Tarrant 1998 aptly translate ‘embarrassing’.


the correctness of names


The so-called ‘compelling’ argument the conclusion of which follows necessarily by logic.54 From the fact that Proclus Ànds the argument in Crat. 385a and the third, persuasive argument in Crat. 391c10ff., it can be deduced that Proclus locates this second, logically compelling, argument in between these two passages, where Socrates argues that names are instruments for dividing reality and instructing others. We shall Ànd that Proclus indeed rewrites this section of the Cratylus into a series of logical arguments (see esp. In Crat. XLVI and XLVIII). Comparison to Proclus’ Commentary on Alcibiades I suggests that Proclus interpreted the refutation of Hermogenes up to this point as some kind of puriÀcation. In his commentary on the former dialogue, Proclus explains that the Àrst section of that dialogue aims at:
T. 4.10 . . . taking away the ignorance ( ) from our intellect and the impediments to knowledge ( μ ) that are in it because of generation, removing them by means of many syllogisms of every sort ( μ ) (Proclus In Alc. 14, 10–13).

The many syllogisms that Proclus Ànds in the Àrst part of the discussion with Hermogenes serve the same point: like Alcibiades, Hermogenes suffers from a double ignorance.55 As Proclus pointed out in his discussion of the character of Hermogenes, he is led astray by the world of becoming, which he believes to be the only level of reality that there is. He does not know that he does not know about the real objects of knowledge, the Forms. At the end of the discussion with Hermogenes, Proclus refers to this double ignorance when he brieÁy lists the Àve epistemic conditions of the human soul: double ignorance ( ), single ignorance ( ), desire ( ), investigation ), and discovery ( ). At this stage Hermogenes has ( apparently been cured, for Socrates will now teach him the methods ) that amounts to discovery, of investigation ( μ the highest form of human knowledge, i.e. investigation of intelligible reality through names.56

54 See Arist. Top. 105a18: μ (i.e. a deduction is more compelling than an induction); cf. Alexander of Aphrodisias In Top. 87, 1–2: . μ … 55 For the double ignorance from which Alcibiades suffers, see Proclus In Alc. 293, 17ff. 56 Cf. In Crat. LXV for the Àve epistemic conditions; In Crat. LXVI for the fact that Socrates will now reveal to Hermogenes the methods of investigation.


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The third argument, Ànally, surpasses logical proof. It leads to complete persuasion. Proclus distinguishes between two types of persuasion ): one inferior to logical demonstration and one superior. In Theol. ( Plat. I 6, for instance, he opposes demonstrative logical argumentation, which is compelling, to persuasion based on divinely inspired myths as can be found in, for example, Homer. This sort of argument leads to persuasion of the superior type.57 Proclus assumes that Plato introduces this sort of argument when he makes Hermogenes ask Socrates ) him of the natural correctness of to try to really persuade ( names by telling him in what precisely this natural correctness consists.58 Socrates, in his characteristic manner, denies possessing any knowledge about the topic himself, but appeals to the authority of Homer. From Homer it appears that gods and men call the same things by different names. Given the superiority of the gods, we have to assume that the divine names are better.59 Hence the divine Homer, too, teaches us that there exists a natural correctness of names.60 We shall not deal with this passage in the present chapter, but postpone discussion of it until chapter six when we shall turn to Proclus’ discussion of divine names.61 7.3 The argument (In Crat. XXXIII)

In Crat. 385a Hermogenes agrees with Socrates that on his account one may personally use the name ‘horse’ for what is commonly referred to

57 Theol. Plat. I 6 p. 29, 14–17: “This type of discourse (viz. myth) is not demonstrative ) but inspired ( ), constructed by the Ancients not in order to ( compel people but to persuade them ( ), aiming not at mere instruction (μ ) but at sympathy with μ μ μ μ μ μ ).” divine reality ( 58 Crat. 390e6–391a3: (Hermogenes) , ,

59 60

μ .







Cf. Crat. 391c10–392b2. Proclus had alrady hinted at this argument in the prolegomena, see T. 4.2 where he contrasts the divine name ‘Murine’ to the human name ‘Batieia’. 61 SchoÀeld 1972 and Ritoré Ponce 1992b offer different interpretations of the three arguments. According to SchoÀeld In Crat. XXXVIII constitutes the second argument and In Crat. XLVI the third; Ritoré Ponce, in response to SchoÀeld, identiÀes In Crat. XXXVI–XXXVII as the second argument and In Crat. XXXVIII as the third. However, neither In Crat. XLVI nor In Crat. XXXVIII are what Proclus would consider to be persuasive arguments.

In Parm. individual and city alike will have the authority to name things. But the consequence is not the case. Both words are attested (multifarious). is not the case: our language appears to be quite stable. This is due to the real subject matter of (most) names. in Proclus. they will primarily name the perceptible particulars because these are in front of everybody’s eyes. 99. which he describes thus: 115 T. 4. It is worth taking a closer look at the 62 Reading with the MSS. 9 for ) and is the opposite of unity. hence neither is the antecedent (In Crat.g.11 And the Àrst argument is as follows: if names are by imposition. 12 and V 1032. Proclus assumes that if we leave naming to the hoi polloi. eternal Forms. Since these are in a permanent state of change. 22. In this lapidary form.12 . however. . as well as to the fact that those who name the things have knowledge of these. In his Commentary on the Alcibiades Proclus explicitly makes the point that the degree of stability of names depends on the degree of stability of the objects named: T. . 3. whereas the names of the things that become and perish change in many ways and are to a high degree the product of convention because of the unstable movement of the objects to which they refer (In Alc. In the same paragraph Proclus observes furthermore that in the Timaeus Plato makes the same point. but it helps to bear in mind that as we have seen (T. we would expect things to change names all the time. 18–23). 6 for . Such. and the things will be called by ever different names. 11. 4. From the obvious stability of language. it thus follows that Hermogenes cannot be right. Here the point is not so much that names (from are split into many parts. the stable.62 because of the fact that the particulars are undeÀned and the product of change and the fact that these names are chosen without knowledge and because they are a matter of opinion. XXXIII p. Proclus assumes that it contains an argument.. and names will be exchanged in many different ways. Proclus’ argument may be difÀcult to understand.the correctness of names as ‘man’ and vice versa. e. [I]n the Cratylus Socrates says that the names of the eternal things rather touch on the nature of these things. but that on Hermogenes’ account the names of things will constantly be changed in every new ways. V 1009. see. 13–18).10). (Pasquali: ). . The latter means ‘split into many parts’ and In Crat. CLXXIV p.

From belief to opinion things’) we only have ). 29d2: μ ) about the material cosmos: T.1): T. μ μ (cf. for the fact that stable objects of discourse produce stable discourse. see In Tim. Here we have the same sets of oppositions as in the Commentary on the Cratylus: ‘abiding and unchangeable’ objects (cf. μ The logos of things is akin to these things and as it were an offspring of these. In Crat. μ (In Tim. 4. 18–21). In Crat.14 . but is only a likeness. I p.64 A clear indication that Proclus based his discussion of the two types of names on this ‘axiom’ from the Timaeus is the following description of this relation of a logos about the intelligible to its objects which strongly recalls what Proclus had said in In Crat. I p.. for in his commentary on this passage. 8: ) μ (cf. I p. T. so is truth to belief ( ) (Plato Ti. e. standing to the former kind in a proportion: as reality is to becoming.63 The idea that an important one to Proclus. 64 On Proclus’ commentary on this passage.2 ‘the perishable that express belief. since he assumes that in the Timaeus Plato formulates some kind of axiom that is also at work in the Cratylus. I 341. 4.116 chapter four relevant passage from the Timaeus and Proclus’ commentary on it. I 342.13 A logos is akin to ( ) the things which it interprets—a logos of that which is abiding and stable (μ μ ) and discoverable by the aid of intellect will itself be abiding and unchangeable (μ μ )… while an account of what is made in the image of μ that other.. ‘the eternal things’) . 1. 4. . 8–9: μ ) (cf. . IV 3. 29b. it is only a small ( should be akin to their objects was clearly step. 7–8: μ ) (In Tim. I (see T. 1. see further Gersh 2003: 150f. are the objects of intellectual study and are expressed in true whereas in the case of this material cosmos (cf. 4. 1. 63 Alcinous Didasc. I 340. In Crat. with which Proclus associates Hermogenes. 29b4–c3. after Cornford). trans. indeed does so in his paraphrase of this passage from the Timaeus. will itself be but likely. The relevant passage is Timaeus’ explanation of why he can only offer a ‘likely myth’ (Ti. .g. 11–25 where Proclus comments in detail on Ti. 21) and he stresses that these logoi he calls it an derive their quality of stability from the fact that they represent stable objects. For they are the result of knowledge in us which corresponds to the things.

dwelling above with truthful language. is that of a goat. The upper part of Pan’s body is human and represents ). 411b) we are told that the name-givers of old got dizzy when they tried to name (apparently) other things and were ) that there is nothing μ μ and thus led to the belief ( about the world. It represents falsehood and μ is to be found “below among the mass of men. but about making the soul stand still at the things. one about the divine world and the other about the world of becoming.”65 Various other passages too suggest that this opposition between truth and falsehood has to do with the nature of the object that is named. but that they are stable. As we have already seen above. In this respect D. Crat. whereas he rejects those that bear on other topics as erroneous. is itself something unchanging and of unchanging objects that μ . Socrates had already observed that the study of the . cf. produced a pure intellect. continuously changing objects. 408b–d. at the very end of the Cratylus (437a).e. 396b–c). i. the heavenly phenomena. on and the other hand.the correctness of names 117 Proclus’ interpretation of this aspect of the Cratylus merits closer inspection. the son of Hermes and the inventor of speech. These observations prepare the way for the Ànal conclusion of the Cratylus. 440b4–6: μ . which discusses the name of the god Pan. the likely myth of the Timaeus (see the discussion of T. which inspired Proclus the gods ( to call the names of eternal beings divine names. 66 See Sedley 2003: 97–98 and 108–109. . The appearance of the god Pan. as they had previously assumed (Crat. thus implying that these are not constantly moving. The passage from the Cratylus is well discussed by Brisson 1994a: 133–135. (eternal) whereas later on (Crat. displays the ambiguous nature of language. 397b the names of the eternal beings are far more likely to be examples of correctly established names than names of perishable entities like those of human beings and heroes. according to Crat. . μ . i. 412a).—The lower part.66 Finally.13 above). we Ànd the same distinction between two types of language. for he seems to have hit on something.—One passage it seems.e. 4. is not about chasing after Socrates observes that knowledge. 439d5–6: 65 Cf. Sedley has called attention to the fact that Plato appears to accept the names that deal with the gods and the eternal heavenly bodies as having been correctly established. It is “smooth and divine ( )”. to be philosophically sound. like beauty itself (Crat. In Crat. One page earlier (Crat.

Socrates claims that if we want to cut something successfully. Proclus discovers a double ). The actual text of the Cratylus invites this division. for actions to be correct. the onomata and that hence the names of eternal things are reliable sources of information about these them. XXXIII refers to it as one argument. According to Plato Crat. Moreover. 386e4–387d. the Cratylus and the Timaeus hold comparable theories about the two types of speech. they have to be undertaken in accordance with the objects of these actions. he probably does so because in the end they come down to the same thing: the nature of the thing on which is acted or on which the instrument is used determines the way in which an act is to be undertaken or how an instrument is to be shaped if the action is to be a success. the transition from one part of the argument concerning the nature of action of cutting to the other one concerning the suitable instrument is clearly marked ). In addition to these arguments Proclus derives from each one an argument against Aristotle’s claim in De Interpretatione that names are not natural but conventional. even though this is commonly ignored by modern scholars: in the introduction to his argument in favor of a natural correctness of names (Crat. XLVI) argument in Crat. μ . both In keeping with the logical nature of a arguments are presented in a strictly logical format. When based on the identiÀcation of names with instruments ( Proclus in In Crat. 387a). (387d10: argument. should also be performed in keeping with its objects. 387a–388b. From this correspondence Proclus concludes that the stability that the Timaeus ascribes to scientiÀc logoi is also a quality of a constitutive part of these logoi. 7. In short. and therefore naming. a second one is One argument considers naming as an act ( ). XLVI offers his readers a strictly analytical presentation of Plato’s text by rewriting Plato’s text into a series of syllogistic .4 The argument from action (In Crat. Proclus In Crat. Speaking is a form of action.118 chapter four ). which correspond to two types of objects and two types of knowledge. we have to cut it in accordance with the nature of the cutting of that particular thing (which in turn depends on the nature of that thing) and with the thing naturally μ μ suited to the task ( μ μ ). the being a part of speaking.

7 ff. As an example of this new approach he refers to the analysis of the argument from harmony by Proclus and Damascius in Damascius’ commentary on the Phaedo (In Phd. has left out the .67 This procedure of clarifying a text by reworking it into a series of syllogisms is common in the ancient commentators on Aristotle.g. .” for another—which will therefore be a further assumption or 68 See.. You take or are offered one pertinent proposition which may serve as an assumption or premiss.68 who observes that the order of these formulations is the inverse of that of natural language. nor did they completely discard the resulting approach to Plato’s texts. the interpretation of Plato’s reasoning became increasingly careful. for instance. 70 Cf.. You are thus: “[ trying to construct an argument for a given thesis.69 The Athenian Neoplatonists started to apply this procedure to Plato’s texts. Iamblichus rated intuitive understanding over discursive thought and hence appears to have had little interest in a discursive. or ‘supplementary premiss’.. see Dalimier 2000. see Barnes 2003: 8–9. further In Phd. as is the case here in the commentary on the Cratylus. §§ 405–406. step by step analysis of Platonic texts. 69 On the use of syllogistic reformulations in the commentators on Aristotle. 5.. Westerink 1976: 14–18. for the particular form of logical analyses which we have here in our commentary.70 Each syllogism corresponds to a section from the Cratylus. II 45–53). It is. very common in Alexander’s commentaries. It is indicative of a trend. e. 57. He explains it ] means ‘additional assumption’. see. Starting from the syllogism that is intended to prove that names have a natural correctness. Damascius esp. 443. Àrst pointed out by L. cf. Westerink. 164a12–b7). 10. 2 who explains why Plato in the passage under discussion and then supplements it. The μ as the determining factor of an action central role of the 67 For the meaning of the term . Olympiodorus In Gorg. It had apparently been initiated by Proclus’ teacher Syrianus in reaction to Iamblichus’ intuitive approach. to pay close attention to the argumentative structure of Plato’s dialogues. he subsequently analyzes the supplementary ) into a new syllogism. I §§ 361–370. 12 ff. 30 ff. Alexander of Aphrodisias In Meta. premise or additional assumption ( the supplementary premise of which is once again analyzed and so forth. 45. G. e. yet they also made the point of scrutinizing the actual text itself. Of course neither Syrianus nor Proclus did object to Iamblichus’ preference of intuitive understanding over discursive thought. I 264–265 and cf. and then you hunt about . 474.the correctness of names 119 arguments that trace back the Platonic text in reversed order. 590. In Phd. I §§ 49. who himself had already recommended it as an exercise ( μ see Aristotle Top. The main function of this exercise was to test the original argument. 322. 184.g. As a result. Following Plotinus. 262.

or that each thing is privately for each person. Crat. burning and cutting. 387b8–c3: speaking is an action. 28 ff. 19–27 points to the Àrst Limit ( ) as the metaphysical principle of each thing having a proper nature of its own. 386e6–387b7: actions. Proclus In Crat. XLV p. and therefore the second. as well as to Plato’s text. The fourth argument analyses the supplementary premise of the third argument: if all things have some sort of proper nature and if actions are not by convention. 13. But the Àrst. have been added in small print. For an action is performed on the basis of rational choice ( ). 13. 386d8–e5: the rejection of Euthydemus’ view as well as that of Protagoras. so does naming since it is a part of speaking and therefore it is also an action. have to be undertaken in keeping with their objects if they are to be successful. and therefore the second. which at Àrst may seem problematic ( ). and therefore the second. things have some sort of nature proper to each of them. The third argument analyses the supplementary premise of the second argument: if every action done in conformity to the nature of things is well executed. Proclus In Crat. XLIII pp. 14. Cf. XLIV p. 387c6–10: if the action of correct speaking depends on the things. But the Àrst. Proclus In Crat. T. and therefore speaking well means speaking in accordance with the objects of speech. Cf.g.120 chapter four becomes sufÀciently clear. Proclus In Crat. Cf. When one reads through the argument it appears that the previous sections of the commentary from In Crat. But the Àrst. And Àrst one has to speak thus: if the naming that happens in the natural way to name things is correct. XLII p. as is the case for speaking. the name has its correctness by nature. The second argument analyses the supplementary premise: if speaking has its correctness through the things. and therefore the second. actions are well executed when done in conformity with the nature of things.15 Now a demonstration that shows that the correct name has received its correctness by nature and not by imposition is called for. 4. The Àfth argument analyses the supplementary premise of the fourth argument: if it is not the case that all things have all attributes simultaneously forever. But the Àrst. But the Àrst. . e. Cf. Crat. naming too is correct insofar as it has occurred in the natural way to name things. References to these. speaking too has its correctness through the things. 3–9 shows by means of dihaeresis that speaking is an action. while insisting that in both cases things do not happen by chance. 14. comments on the difference between acting ( ) and doing ( ). and therefore the second. XXXVIII onwards prepare the way for the construction of the argument. Crat. 10–30 argues for the correctness of this argument. Crat.

In Crat. Crat. XXXIX p. as we said. He then continues by saying that not every sentence is a statement). 386a8–b8. Proclus In Crat. The seventh argument analyses the supplementary premise of the sixth argument. 15. speaking has its correctness through the things. As Proclus’ third argument shows. In Crat. everybody would be equally intelligent. 13. If some people are very good. Proclus In Crat. 386b9–386d7: if either Euthydemus is right that all things have all attributes simultaneously forever or if Protagoras is right that each thing is in an unique way to each person. Cf. 28–30 explains the relation between goodness and intelligence along the lines of Socratic intellectualism (no one does wrong willingly). 10–18 discusses the difference between the position of Protagoras and that of Euthydemus. Proclus infers that for Aristotle to be true or false is an essential characteristic of statement-making sentences. But the Àrst. As we have noted. From it follows the second argument (“if speaking has its correctness through the things. XXXVIII p. In its present condensed form.13). Cf. 1. 1–26 7. and therefore the second. 12. “therefore names are not by convention”. it is not the case that all things have all attributes simultaneously forever. but the preceeding analysis of the Cratylus throws some helpful light on it. and others quite the opposite. Proclus In Crat.5 Corollary: an argument against Aristotle (In Crat. From this. XLVI p. and therefore the second. some are very intelligent. Proclus here uses Plato’s argument in favor of the natural correctness of names to demonstrate that Aristotle’s semantic theory is inconsistent. “as we said” probably refers to Aristotle’s discussion of why names are conventional symbols. naming too is correct insofar as it has . Proclus. ) is signiÀcant “not as a tool Aristotle claims that every sentence ( but. is critically disposed towards Aristotle. but only those in which there is making sentence ( truth or falsity. like Plotinus before him. XLVII) As we have seen. 24–27 explains how Socrates’ argument against Protagoras works. XL adds some afterthoughts about the relation between good and bad men. In a text discussed in chapter one (T.the correctness of names 121 The sixth argument analyses the supplementary premise of the Àfth argument: if some men are very intelligent and others are the opposite. They do not possess this characteristic by convention. But the Àrst. the argument as such is not very clear. Statement-making sentences are either true (correct) or false. by convention”. or that each thing is privately for each person. Crat. XLI p. 12. and other people are very bad.

tool for the job. Hence names being tools. Since in the case instrument has a natural power ( μ See § 6 above.73 Proclus explains that the ( former element of the deÀnition refers to the user of the instrument.72 others to teach and express the essence of things. as observes Sheppard 1987: 146. the name has its correctness by nature”). revealing the thing to which it refers. 19. It is almost needless to say that what holds true for a whole does not necessarily hold true for its parts. i. such as the bridle and the name.71 Of the latter. 72 71 . naturally suited. and that from the fact that there are correct and incorrect statements. such as the adze.e. She assumes that Proclus introduces the term under the inÁuence of Aristotle’s use of μ at De Int. and those that are natural ( . Olympiodorus In Grg. Proclus now establishes what kind of instrument a name is. To my mind. 388b). Crat. just as theurgical statues do. it rather points to Proclus’ concept names as instruments that reveal the essences of the gods.e. 5. the passage discussed in In Crat. XLVIII) argument from names as Crat. XLVIII presents the text in a strictly logical manner.1. i. 17a1–2. ‘Natural’ is used here in the Aristotelian sense discussed above. There are ) instruments like a hand and a foot.122 chapter four occurred in the natural way to name things”). and next the Àrst (“if the naming that happens in the natural way to name things is correct. some instruments are intended to make something with.. 387d–388b focuses on names as instruments: if one is to do a job successfully.1 and chapter six § 5. be it that this time it does not take the form of Aristotelian syllogisms. whereas the latter element refers to the task of a name. the teacher (cf. Proclus next recalls Plato’s deÀnition of a name in a somewhat adapted form as an instrument that instructs ) and reveals ( ). e. it does not necessarily follow that there are correct and incorrect names. Proclus In Crat. Starting from the fact that every name-giver does something and does so by means of an instrument. Given that ) it follows that each each instrument has a proper job ( μ ).6 The (In Crat. The adze ( ) is a stock example in ancient commentators on Plato and Aristotle. 73 Note that Plato nowhere says that a name reveals the nature of its object. there exists a natural correctness of names.g. XLIX. see. see § 7. it has to be done with the right. but that of a Platonic dihaeresis. 7.

have to be akin to their objects ( 7. It concerns once again the latter’s claim that a sentence is meaningful by convention ). but speaking a name. It is indeed an instrument designed by a craftsman.g.7 Corollary: an argument against Aristotle (In Crat. 17. an assumption to which Aristotle does not subscribe. e.74 Whereas movement itself is natural. a meaningful sound is a matter of convention. . we shall take a closer look at Proclus’ theory concerning these names by studying his comments on Crat. LXXXI) As we have seen. Blank 1996: 154 n. 392b–395e In this passage. names μ ). e. LXXX–XCV) 8. for instance. Proclus supplies ( an argument for this thesis that is frequently cited in the ancient commentators on Aristotle and probably goes back on Alexander. Sheppard 1987: 144–145. instrument (Int. Proclus attaches much weight to Plato’s distinction between the names of eternal and mortal beings. 26: μ ). but then claims that it is meaningful by convention. the way in which one moves need not be: dancing. XLIX) As he did with the previous argument. § 5). this all depends on the assumption that names should reveal the nature of the thing that they signify. For a discussion of this passage see. Admittedly a name is not natural in the sense that it is has been spontaneously produced (cf. 7–18.1 The of a personal name (In Crat. Hence it needs to be an image of its object. Socrates studies the correctness of human names. 17a1–2). Proclus uses this Platonic passage to expose an inconsistency in Aristotle’s semantic theory. is clearly . 63. Yet it has been designed for a certain purpose: to reveal its its object (p.g. Ammonius In Int. Proclus spots an inconsistency in the fact that Aristotle is willing to consider a sentence as an instrument. as Aristotle has it. However. not as an . Hence the fact that a name is an instrument implies that it cannot be by convention. 8 Names of mortal individuals ( In Crat. In this section.. 232.. a certain type of movement. After analyzing the names of 74 See. and in that sense it is natural. In the same way emitting sound is natural.the correctness of names 123 of a name this has to do with revealing the things they signify.

not what Proclus has in mind. had argued that an individual is an individual because he consists of a conglomeration of individuating qualities. should express: “that the name-giver needs to look at the forms ( μ μ ) of those to be named when he makes a name.”75 Tidying up this corner of the Cratylus is precisely what Proclus does in his commentary. 209c. as we shall see. On this issue. he moves on to investigate the aptness of the names of the family of Tantalus. 77 Plato Crat. LXXXI p. see further Sorabji 2004 (vol. Porphyry. awaiting more work. For. 153–154. It is. i. “an untidy corner of the theory. 26–28. and Sorabji forthcoming. When giving of the those names we often go wrong both because “the divisible activity of our souls” and “particular nature” may fail its its proper ends. Socrates’ discussion about personal names is a bit disappointing. 78 In Crat. especially when one compares it to the lively debate on personal names in contemporary philosophy. in the words of D. personal names may offer an adequate description of an individual. The Àrst thing to note about these names is that Proclus apparently assumes that there exists. that these personal names are not very likely to be correct.76 This is. there existed something like John Searle’s cluster theory of personal names. a natural correctness of these names too. In line with this. 76 75 . 397d4–5. probably taking his lead from Plato Tht. as we have seen. at least potentially. 79 See pp. 37.”78 It may come as a bit of a surprise to be told that in giving and of explaining names of individual beings we have to look at the that person. however.124 chapter four Hector’s son in the Iliad. About this category of names Proclus had said in his description of the dialogue that they are ‘by chance’. the Christian author Basil of Caesarea assumed that when we hear a person’s name we think of a conglomeration of individuating properties. But what counts as an adequate description of an individual? In late Antiquity. and that it is this form that a name. if it is to be correct. He assumes that the case of the names of individuals is analogous to that of other things.79 Proclus denies the existence of Forms Sedley 2003: 155. His Ànal conclusion is. 226–228 (“Names as descriptions”). In keeping with Socrates’ remark that in the case of person names too names are ) of the thing is in control and correct if “the being or essence ( is expressed in the name”77. Proclus assumes that individuals too have a form.e. 3) pp. Sedley.

38. Souls are free to live in accordance with this form of life or to go against their own nature. since it is natural that like begets like. Proclus illustrates this by means of an example from Greek mythology. They are not. or an impious son born from a good man. 10–11). 80 In Crat. Proclus calls these ‘mortal’ forefathers. Yet.. yet we are not the only ones to blame. LXXXI p. unless the ) are those who are child turns out to be a monster. 38.2 When nature fails: naming monsters (In Crat. children should be called after parents. LXXXII–LXXXIII) We may often fail to name our children correctly. because of the fact that he belonged to the ‘series’ of the deity Heracles (i. Those souls that choose to live in accordance with their own form of life will also call themselves with a name that brings out their close association with their guardian gods. the immortal Zeus. Forms in the Platonic sense of the word. 8. create the individuals after the universal Form Man. The so-called young gods. Heracles was called Alceides “after his mortal (fore)fathers”. not that of its parent (Crat. however. ‘Alceides’ was the name of Heracles’ mortal grandfather. of course. an example of an inappropriate name given in memory of them. p. they are the forms of the individuals for they represent various types of ). Monsters ( ). Nature too. in another sense. Examples of such monsters are born contrary to nature ( a calf born from a horse. e. a royal way of life or a philosophical one.e.the correctness of names 125 of individuals properly speaking. Socrates concludes that in those cases we should give the offspring the name of the kind to which it belongs.80 The Pythia. Socrates had posited that. ordered that he had to be called Heracles. They are thus the causes of the individuals. thus Proclus. however.g. servants to the Demiurge. 16: . whereas those that choose to live a life contrary to their nature will also use names that “actually belong to others and are theirs by chance” ( μ . . since Heracles’ true father is. their types of life are also those of the souls that they produce. Since life ( they create the individual souls in their own image. 393b–c). and the nickname of his father Ampythrion. often goes wrong as the case of monsters illustrates. Proclus assumes that the heros Heracles is a lower manifestation of the god Heracles).

Proclus’ discussion of monsters recalls Aristotle GA 769b10 ff. Proclus. more perfect cause has 81 Proclus Mal. contrary to Plato and Proclus. since monsters do not really ) instead of monsters. 394d). yet the offspring resembles something (a calf ). explains that even monsters are. He does so by drawing a distinction between particular and universal nature.e. According to Proclus (p. 39. Yet in fact Plato does not say that they are like monsters but that they are monsters (cf. If a calf is born from a horse. A horse may fail to produce offspring resembling itself. 1–3). There is after all nothing unnatural about a calf per se. but in the end the most universal (μ ) movement. For. mortal ones (the parents). According to Aristotle. though. Crat. 6–21. he argues that there exist two types of bodily evil: foulness and disease. in a sense. 82 It is interesting to note that Proclus’ own theories about monsters lead him to manipulate Plato’s text. that of living being remains. Plato says that such creatures are “like monsters” ( because they are not completely contrary to nature. according to nature. for an English translation and notes. a topic to which he had dedicated a monograph. in those cases most of the ‘movements’ that govern procreation fail and the matter is μ — uncontrolled. there may seem to be little about this passage that requires discussion. the horse has clearly failed to pass its particular nature on to its offspring. In that treatise. who is at pains to show that evil is primarily to be located in the human soul and thus wants to reason away other forms of evil. related to the issue of the existence of evil. but does not even resemble a human being at all. exist. that it is impossible that a horse produces a cow is shown by the great difference in the period of gestation. to Proclus the existence of monsters was something of a philosophical puzzle.g. two human beings does not just not resemble its father or mother. However. Hence. see Opsomer-Steel 2003: 102 f. a calf as such is not contrary to universal nature. the case in which the offspring of. 60. e. Subsist.81 Foulness consists in “all things contrary to nature that are not diseases. He explains that we should distinguish between the universal causes (Forms) and the proximate. . Yet. Proclus appeals to the same distinction between particular and universal nature. for monsters too. even if the calf is a monster in respect of the particular nature of its parent. Rather. that. it is not a monster in respect of universal nature. Aristotle argues.126 chapter four To the modern reader of the Cratylus. i. are foulnesses of nature” ( ). but merely a living being. where Aristotle explains the occurrence of monsters.82 When dealing with monsters in the context of his Commentary on the Cratylus. Note. since a superior. Therefore such a creature is not really an evil. its cow-like offspring is a horse deformed in such a way that it resembles a cow. Aristotle denies that a horse will ever produce a cow..

but brings In Crat. whether it was given to him by chance ( ) or by some poet.the correctness of names 127 intervened and made it be something if not a horse. Socrates believes that this name beÀts a man who will in due course kill his father. Chance. He remarks: T. 86 Baxter 1992: 45: “ is not necessarily incompatible with that rational ideal—it might be the expression of a providential world order”. LXXXIII p. 394e8–11). Hermogenes. LXXXVIII p. 84 83 . his rushing forward ( This passage may be read as an indication that for Plato chance was not necessarily some blind. Since their proximate cause is rather weak. Above we have seen that the individual names are the chance ( product of chance. 43. 22–39. Instead. 8. Proclus speculates that he gave him this name because he hoped that his son might turn out to be someone noted ). 4–8. irrational force. LXXXII pp. who displayed in his name the brutality. and ruggedness ( ) of his nature (Plato Crat. how may we explain the fact that quite often we Ànd that the names of children turn out to be appropriate after all? Proclus ascribes this to ). and quickness.84 Yet. μ . it is easy to change one sort into another by means of grafting.3 An aporia: how to explain correct personal names? (In Crat. it should be considered as ‘a divine or daemonic’ power that does not leave anything without its proper care. should not be thought of as some irrational and undeÀned cause ( ). savagery. 3. he says. Proclus derives this notion of chance from Plato’s remarks about the name of Orestes.83 An illustration in point is the case of plants. 4. the product is in accordance with universal nature and the offspring should be named in accordance with it. LXXXVIII) If nature cannot be trusted to produce children that are like their parents and if we cannot possibly know the future lives of our children.86 This is precisely the line that Proclus takes. In Crat. 38. in this case too. 22–26. 39.16 Thus the name ‘ ’ (‘Mountain-man’) is surely correct. the universal cause is. 85 In Crat. So even if the proximate cause it not always in control of matter. No doubt Agamemnon did not have Orestes’ savagery in mind when he named his son thus.85 for his vigor.

or even if the force a name possesses is embodied in different letters altogether”. yet the doctor. Zeus. In his book on the Cratylus. because they differ in color and smell. e. In his commentary on the Platonic passage just mentioned. II 298. may well conclude that they are one and the same.g. 394e–395d Socrates discusses the meaning of the names of the members of the house of Atreus. “one who knows about names looks to their force or power and is not disconcerted if a letter is added. 9–299. Sedley raises the question whether in the Cratylus or not. who looks only at their powers to cure. LXXXVIII p. it seems that in the that it is not. His etymologies aim at showing the appropriateness of these names. From this comparison Sedley concludes that Plato indeed considers etymology . transposed. the name turns out to be appropriate after all. i.128 chapter four everything into line with the good and the order of the universe. 88 In Crat. This passage prompts Proclus to reÁect on etymology from a Platonic perspective. Samples of medicines may appear different to us. 8.89 It is often supposed etymology is supposed to be a presupposes rules. they may well be one and the same name since they mean the same thing. Whereas a case of etymology everything goes. LXXXVIII p. Socrates compares this to the doctor’s medicines. such as knowledge of the dialects. 393c–394b where Socrates dwells on the fact that even though names may seem different to the uninitiated because of the variation in their syllables. Agamemnon in the case of Orestes. Likewise. chance. sees to it that in the end. 28. or subtracted.e. . 43. D. in some unexpected way. he formulates an extensive list of things that an aspiring etymologist should know. of poetical 87 In Crat. initially gets things wrong. 619c6 in In RP.87 When the proximate cause of naming. This discussion of chance as a beneÀcent divine power in this world bears strong parallels to Proclus’ discussion of Plato R. 8–10.88 8. being the more universal cause. 44. “just as happens in nature”. just as the universal cause corrects the failure of the proximate cause in the case of monsters. 89 Sedley 2003: 41–50 (“Etymology as expertise”). There can be little doubt that Proclus himself considers to be a etymology to be a real craft. working his way backwards from Orestes to Tantalus and his divine father. LXXXIX–XCV) In Crat. 26–44. Sedley points to Crat.4 The names of the members of the house of Tantalus (In Crat.

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language, the ability to recognize simple and compound names, and so forth.90 As the learnt apparatus in Pasquali’s edition brings out, many of the items listed are derived from the ancient grammarians, be it that they discuss these issues in contexts other than that of etymology.91 As such this passage is unique. However necessary knowledge of such linguistic matters may be for an etymologist, Proclus stresses that it is not sufÀcient. He reproaches the grammarians that all they are interested in is the matter of name, i.e. the syllables that make up a name.92 Proclus stresses that Plato’s μ , explanations of names—to which he sometimes refers as an otherwise unattested word93—starts from the thing that is shown by μ μ ),94 i.e. from the form of someone’s the name ( life95 and then goes on to examine how this is expressed by the syllables of the word, i.e. the matter of the word, instead of starting from the latter, as the grammarians do. Plato instead “despises the matter” ( μ ).96 In the case of the name ‘Orestes’, for example, is his beastly nature ( “the thing revealed” about ). The words and are what is ‘like it’, i.e. . Of the they are more or less synonymous to latter synonym we Ànd traces in the syllables that have been used to with. Contrary to what Proclus here suggests, express the name this method of etymologizing through synonymy was very common in Antiquity, especially among grammarians.97

In Crat. LXXXV. Proclus, no doubt, knew these things from his days as a pupil of a grammarian in Lycia (cf. Marinus Proclus § 8, 1–2). 92 Indeed, the grammarian is not interested in etymology as a hermeneutic tool. He uses it in order to clarify the sense of a word or to distinguish between ‘barbarous’ and correct forms or words, as part of , i.e. using the Greek language correctly. See, e.g., the discussion of etymology as a means to establish what is correct Greek by Sextus Empiricus, Against the Grammarians (Adversus Mathematicos I), 241–247 with the informative commentary by Blank 1998: 255–257. Cf. also the second of the three that Proclus distinguishes (pp. 89–91). senses of 93 The word is only known from Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus, see In Crat. ); In Crat. LXXXIX p. 45, 14; In Crat. XC p. 45, LXXXVIII p. 43, 29 ( μ 23; In Crat. CIII p. 53, 7 and In Crat. CXXVIII p. 76, 17. Proclus seems to use it as μ . a synonym of 94 In Crat. LXXXIX p. 45, 15. 95 In Crat. XC p. 45, 27. 96 In Crat. XC p. 45, 23f. 97 On this manner of etymologizing through synonyms, see Peraki-Kyriakidou 2002: 482–489; for Plato’s Cratylus, see especially pp. 486–7.



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The remark that Socrates “despises the matter” of names hints at the ethical message that Proclus discovers in this passage. It is a reminder that we have to despise matter in general and that we have to turn ourselves around to our true selves and to the intelligible world instead. Proclus points out that the fact that names reveal something about the soul of a person, not so much about his body, is an indication that μ ), not in our our being is located in our soul ( μ ).98 This, however, is not the only moral lesson body ( that can be learnt from this passage.99 In the cases of the etymologies of the names of Orestes, Agamemnon and Atreus (In Crat. XCII), one may learn about good and bad forms of honor and revenge. Proclus part of assumes that the three men were dominated by the μ their soul. However, whereas it drives Agamemnon to attack his natural enemies, the barbarians, it makes Orestes and Atreus turn against their own kin. Proclus gets much more out of these etymologies than Plato. μ μ from the fact that he Plato (Crat. 395a–b) explains the name μ ), i.e. for is admirable for his steadfastness ( his long siege of Troy, whereas Atreus’ name refers to his crimes against Chrysippus and Thyestes, which were ruinous to his virtue ( ).100 In other words, Plato does not suggest some kind of unifying theme. Proclus, on the other hand, connects the explanations of these names to the famous psychology from the Republic. There, good part is strongly soldiers are compared to good dogs. Their μ developed and therefore they make brave warriors. At the same time they have some sort of intuition, which allows them to distinguish friend from foe. They will protect the former, yet attack the latter as Agamemnon does when he wages war against the hostile foreigners (cf. R. 375d–376a). Orestes and Thyestes, on the other hand, do not part, make this distinction and, because of their unchecked μ attack their own people. The reader’s moral education is continued by the discussion of the names of Pelops and Tantalus (Crat. 395c–e). Once again, Proclus places the etymologies from the Cratylus in a larger (Neo)Platonic context. According to the Cratylus, the name of Pelops refers to the fact that he

98 99

In Crat. XCI. In Crat. XCII p. 46, 4–5.


100 For the explanation of the name of Orestes from T. 4.16 above.

(Crat. 394e), see

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only paid attention to what was at hand ( ): in his attempts to marry Hippodameia, he killed Myrtilus without considering the devastating consequences for himself and his offspring. Proclus turns this into a μ . We should not pay too warning not to look too much to the much attention to human affaires, but instead focuses on the divine and on virtue. Proclus reads the same admonition to direct our attention to the divine world into the etymology of the name Tantalus. Tantalus, the son of Zeus, represents the human soul who has descended from the hall of Zeus, i.e. from the intellection of the intelligible.101 Once the soul has fallen down into this realm of matter, it becomes obsessed with the material world. Just as Tantalus has his comeuppance, the human soul is punished too: the divine fruits of the contemplation of the intelligible are denied to him. The implicit lesson of Proclus to his students is clear: forget about the grammarian and his discussions of syllables. The thing that matters is the form of a name. Your form is your soul. Therefore forget about matter in general, look at your own soul, look at your innate forms. From there turn to the hall of Zeus, the divine Intellect, the Demiurge of the universe and Àrst name-maker, and his world of intelligible Forms. This divine name-makes and his relation to us humans will be the topic of the next chapter. 9. Proclus on the correctness of names: some conclusions From this chapter and the previous one it emerges that Proclus holds a very subtle view on the issue of the correctness of names. It all has to do with the question of how names are related to reality. Proclus, with Plato, assumes that names are on principle a sort of deÀnitions of the things to which they refer. This becomes apparent when one etymologizes these names. They both assume furthermore that these deÀnitions should be expressions of real knowledge. Real knowledge, for a Platonist, is knowledge of the eternal Forms. Therefore, only the philosopher is qualiÀed to give names. As we have seen, Plato did not believe that the Àrst name-givers were in fact philosophers. He had therefore little faith in etymology as a means of philosophical investigation. With Proclus this is completely different. Language appears to be quite stable. This stability can be explained from the fact that
101 For the ‘hall of Zeus’ ( ) as the place from which the souls come and to which they will eventually return, see Van den Berg 2001: 177.


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language is akin to its primary objects, the eternal beings. Therefore, language is basically correct by nature, i.e. it provides a reliable image of metaphysical reality. The prototypes of these names are the names of the gods. The gods are by deÀnition immortal and eternal. Their names display the same sort of permanency. Since they are holy, noone would dare to change them. Proclus thus feels free to throw Plato’s warning to the winds not to investigate the things through their names. As we shall see in chapter six, this is precisely what he does in the case of divine names. In the case of the things down here in the material realm of change, we should distinguish between two types of things. On the one hand, there are the things that participate in the Forms. These derive both their existence and their name from the Form that causes them. In this case too the name is an image of its object and has therefore a natural correctness. Proclus distinguishes this type of correctness from another form of correctness, that of the correct use of the name. According to the Cratylus the name-giver gives the names that he makes on the basis of his expert knowledge to his community to use. The lay person will not be able to give a scientiÀc deÀnition of ‘horse’ and is therefore unable to really understand what the word ‘horse’ means, yet he has learnt from others that we call this particular animal here a horse, i.e. he has learnt it by having been shown a stereotype of the species.102 The names of eternal things and the temporary things that depend on them should be distinguished from the things that only exist as particulars. The prototype of these is the name of the individual. Since it is impossible to know individuals in a scientiÀc way, we are unable to give them naturally correct names. The correctness of these names therefore depends on imposition and convention, comparable to S. Kripke’s well-known theory of initial baptism. Proclus thus makes

102 These are two of the three senses of that Proclus distinguishes, see pp. 89–91. Interestingly, this aspect of Proclus’ theory recalls H. Putnam’s “division of linguistic labor”. In his essay ‘The Meaning of “Meaning”’, Putnam 1975: 223–230 argues that everyone to whom water is important for any reason has to acquire the word ‘water’. However, not everybody has to acquire the method of recognizing if something is or is not water. This is the task of a certain class of experts. They know, for example, that the chemical formula of water is H2O and are thus able to distinguish it from other transparent, odourless, and tasteless liquids, which a lay person would all call water. There are, thus Putnam, two ways in which a lay person may learn what one means by a natural-kind term such as ‘water’. One may give him either a description of it, or, as Proclus seems to suggest, a so-called ostensive deÀnition: “this (liquid) is water”.

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explicit the rather implicit suggestion in the Cratylus that there exists a difference between personal names and common nouns. This distinction may recall more recent discussions about naming,103 yet no sooner has Proclus drawn this distinction, or he tries to smooth it over. It may be that we are unable to give naturally correct names to our children, yet chance, a daemonic power, sees to it that these names in some unexpected way appear to be appropriate after all. All of a sudden we are back from contemporary linguistic concerns to the magical universe of Late Antiquity. Proclus’ theory of names is a truly Platonic one. It presupposes both a Platonic ontology (the existence of intelligible Forms) and a Platonic epistemology (true knowledge is knowledge of these Forms). Whereas most Neoplatonists seek to smooth over differences between Plato and Aristotle, Proclus follows the example of Plotinus. The latter not only stresses the differences between Plato and Aristotle but also calls attention to the Áaws in Aristotle’s philosophy, which he explains from the latter’s rejection of Platonic metaphysics. Proclus both here and in the Commentary on the Parmenides likewise insists on the difference between (his interpretation of) Plato’s semantic theory and that of Aristotle and tries to demonstrate that the theory of Aristotle is selfrefuting. He explains the failure of Aristotle’s and Hermogenes’ theory from the fact that they focus on the names of particulars in the sensible world. Therefore they assume that the all names are like the personal names of individuals, which are indeed a product of convention. Had they focussed on the names of the eternal beings instead, they would have found that those names express the nature of their objects and that these are the names that play a role in philosophical discourse. In the next chapter, we shall Ànd further illustrations of Proclus’ critical attitude towards Aristotle and his philosophy.

103 See, e.g., Searle 1969: 162–174 who, in the footsteps of J.S. Mill, argues that there are no deÀnitions of proper names in contrast to predicative expressions such as “man”. Leaving divine proper names aside, this distinction is not unlike that of Proclus.


Proclus claims that Platonic dialectic is superior to Aristotelian dialectic because of its subject. we shall take a closer look at this relation between language. the Middle Platonists assumed that . Both fashion images made of some stuff. and the metaphysical realm. Likewise. Proclus Ànds fault with the Aristotelian semantic theory that connects names Àrst and foremost with our experiences of the physical world. dialectic. Our capacity to make correct names thus reveals that the human soul harbors divine powers. whom Proclus identiÀes with another divine Intellect. As we have seen. The divine Intellect that contemplates these Forms is the Àrst Dialectician. Proclus believes that Platonic dialectic is not a mere human invention but that it originates at the level of the Forms. Introduction From the two previous chapters it has emerged that Proclus’ semantic theory is intrinsically linked to his metaphysics: correctly established names are Àrst and foremost names of metaphysical entities. For this reason. the divine craftsman who creates the material universe in the image of the intelligible world. For this reason. Human dialectic thus consists in the imitation of a divine activity. we shall consider Proclus’ discussion of the logical or dialectical character of the Cratylus. the Forms. In this chapter. First. of immaterial contemplations of the Forms. The dialectical character of the Cratylus ( In Crat. II–IX) One of the set elements of the ancient prolegomena to commentaries on Plato was a discussion of the so-called character of the dialogue under discussion.CHAPTER FIVE PROCLUS’ COMMENTARY ON THE CRATYLUS (II): NAMING. there exists a divine name-giver. the Platonic Demiurge. 2. Proclus compares human name-giving to this creation. It is precisely because human language is rooted in the metaphysical realm that Platonic dialectic is possible. DIALECTIC. be it matter of sound. AND THE DIVINE INTELLECT 1.

one will look in vain for this dismissive attitude towards Aristotelian logic in Porphyry and the many other Neoplatonists who had done commentaries on the Aristotelian Organon. however.136 chapter five the Cratylus was logical or dialectical in character. 534e) and to lead us upwards to the one cause of all things.g. See pp. 64–66.3 Proclus. Platonic dialectic requires of its practitioners that they prepare themselves to contemplate true being by purifying their characters and intellect through the study of mathematics as described in book VII of the Republic. but in the manner of the great Plato. in short. not. educated in mathematics. 5. who have truly worked on philosophy.e. As we have seen. Platonic dialectic cannot be separated from the objects with which it deals. 16c). 1. Alcinous. the Forms. those. Obviously. 41. For the analytical method of the Peripatos. in the manner of Peripatetic dialectical methods. and its main part. demonstration. Whereas the latter had combined Aristotelian with Platonic dialectic. yet his version of the dialectical art differs much from that of. T. 37–38. 10–2. II p. however. e. . Aristotle’s dialectic is presented here as a trite affaire. The latter knew that dialectic Àts only those with a perfectly puriÀed thinking faculty ( ). and “to have been brought to humanity from the gods by Prometheus together with the brightest Àre” (Phlb.1 That the Cratylus is logical and dialectical.1 Proclus accepts this characterization. See p. Consequently. which are unrelated to reality ( v v ). This sort of dialectic is said by him to be the “capstone of mathematics” (Plato R. had been less favorably disposed towards Aristotle. the Good. had inherited Plotinus’ 1 2 3 See pp. 4). are easy to master and very clear for everybody who is not completely confused and has not drunk much water from river Lethe (In Crat. He compares the two forms of dialectic in the prolegomena of his commentary when he discusses the issue of the character of the dialogue. whereas Aristotle’s theory of demonstration as described in the Àrst book of the Posterior Analytics may be learned by anyone who has little brain. i.2 Proclus argues that we should draw a sharp distinction between the two. puriÀed from the juvenile features of their characters through the virtues. it appeared. unlike these Neoplatonists. Plotinus. The crucial difference between his and that of Plato is that whereas Aristotelian dialectic is just a method “unrelated to reality”..

6 Plotinus On Dialectic: “Are dialectic and philosophy the same? It is the valuable part of philosophy. 2. which were for the Àrst time presented in the Cratylus and the Theaetetus. which is acquired through theoretical virtue. 21: v question whether Aristotelian logic was a part of philosophy or merely an instrument of it was much debated by the ancient commentators on Aristotle’s Organon. RvdB) we come to the knowledge of beings. which is about things” (trans. see the translation and commentary by Saffrey-Segonds 2001. I 3 [20] 5. and the Phaedo. 8 Cf. Thus.5 Even though it may be necessary to master these before turning to philosophy. e. 5 4 . Aristotelian logic. he brings up the “so-called logic activity about propositions and syllogisms”. after the Phaedo. In Enn. Armstrong).4 Next. The dialectic a ‘part of philosophy’. see. I 3 [20] (On Dialectic) describes how a prospective philosopher has to start his career by studying mathematics and perfecting his virtues. IV p. 8–12. easily learnt the logical treatises of Aristotle by heart. Enn. On the curriculum.7 The Cratylus. For it must not be thought to be a tool the philosopher uses.e. Westerink adapted). chapter three § 4. a part of philosophy. it deals with things and has real beings as a kind of material for its activity” (Enn. I 3 [20] 4. trans. see Sorabji 2004 (vol. for the relevant texts and secondary literature on this topic. a dialogue about puriÀcation and purifying virtue (i. they are not. Plato in the Cratylus “pres) of reality ( ) and of dialectic. when he ents the principles ( Cf. a dialogue about politics and political virtue. These prepared the student for the study of . which teaches about words. It is not just bare theories and rules. 34–39 ed. the separation of the soul from the body). on the other hand. contrary to Platonic dialectic. it need not surprise us to Ànd that Proclus when distinguishing between Aristotelian and Platonic dialectic follows closely in the footsteps of Plotinus. 7 Marinus Proclus § 9 reports that Proclus as a young student in Alexandria.e.e. has as little to do with Platonic dialectic as the art of writing has. then the Theaetetus.. after the dialogues mentioned we should therefore read. Enn. 18–23. Prolegomena X 26. This. was not even among the Àrst of Plato’s dialogues to be read.8 To put it in Proclus’ own words. i. I 3 [20] 3. cf.2. this reality is observed either in thoughts or in things. Westerink 1990: “Then (i. Iamblichus’ curriculum demanded that it was studied after the Gorgias.6 The Athenian Neoplatonists were of the same mind. fourth. On this passage. see Saffrey 1990 (1987): 178–179. Proclus too calls ). In Crat. Since dialectic requires a puriÀed mind. III) 32–36 (“Is logic a part or an instrument of philosophy?”).naming and dialectic 137 critical attitude towards the Stagirite. Plotinus says. the Cratylus. even though these are extremely difficult texts.g. for in their educational program Aristotelian logic featured likewise as a preparation for the study of philosophy proper. for what this and other texts tell us about Proclus’ relation to Aristotle.

the etymological section can be seen both as a demonstration of a dialectical technique and as a Àrst course on the nature of things. 11 Cf. 4–19 (trans. Proclus In Crat. but together with whole dialectical art. comes down with full force on this interpretation.10 Proclus believes that v ). Plato.. names may play a role in the three other procedures as well. From his Commentary on the Parmenides. 13 See In Parm. the Parmenides was Plato’s ultimate dialogue about metaphysics. however not in isolation ( 12 )”.13 In the next chapter.138 chapter five presents the names together with the things of which they are names”. which praises dialectic as a gift from the gods brought to us by Prometheus. VII pp. e. 3. 3. 28–3.g. For Proclus’ rejection of this Middle Platonic interpretation of the Parmenides. Just as the Cratylus offers us a discussion of names as the most elementary parts of dialectic in combination with knowledge about the bearers of those names. and hence of unparalleled importance. and analysis). Morrow-Dillon). never produced a work that is principally a study of method. we know that there existed a Middle Platonic interpretation of the Parmenides according to which the Parmenides is just an exercise in dialectical gymnastics for the young. 11–19). “not worthy of earnest attention for its own sake”. Proclus (T.9 Proclus assumes that Plato does so in the etymological section of the dialogue. definition. IX: dialectic consists of four procedures (in descending order of importance: division. as can be illustrated with examples from Plato (pp. Since deÀnithese etymologies offer some sort of deÀnition ( tion is one of the four procedures of dialectic. Proclus In Alc. see pp. I 637. 3. A method may be a necesv sary means for gaining knowledge of things ( v ). 12 In Crat. see Steel 1997b. On the Middle Platonists. VIII p. however. it is. 38–41. 5). 4–6. thus Proclus. Proclus for whom. 1–4 for the same idea. even though the study of names is especially useful in defining things (p. 3. Proclus’ remark hints at the dispute the study of reality ( over the correct interpretation of the Parmenides. in the same manner the Parmenides offers “the ). 8.1) stresses the special nature of Platonic dialectic further by quoting from Plato’s Philebus. 5. we shall examine in greater detail how Proclus sees the relation between these two dialogues. Like the Middle Platonists before him. as for all Neoplatonists.11 The study of reality that begins with the Cratylus eventually culminates in the Parmenides. Proclus explicitly compares the two dialogues to each other. cf. demonstration. 25–4.. 2. Proclus takes this rather literally: since Platonic dialectic cannot be seen in separation from the Platonic In Crat. 10 9 .

Since naming is part of dialectic. 5.2 Because of this power the soul can make itself like the gods angels and daemons that are superior to it ( v ). LI p. LI p.1 The image-making power of the human soul (In Crat. 15 In Crat. I. This is indeed the case as we are about to see. 1–2). It therefore crafts statues ( v ) of gods and daemons (In Crat. 16 Crat. 2. But also it makes inferior beings that originate v from itself like itself because of this power. and even like what is superior to itself. v v . LI. LI p. The human legislator / name-giver and the divine Demiurge 3. so the human dialectician studies the innate Forms in his own soul. 19. 27f. Proclus gives two examples of this type of assimilation: T. . 5: . 2. 388c9–389a4). According to him the divine Intellect is “the projector of (Platonic) dialectic”. 17 In Crat.: v . 3.16 Yet. Proclus discusses the topic of the name-giver and the art of name-making in In Crat. it is logical to assume that divine Intellect is also the ‘projector’ of naming. 19. hence assimilating the inferior to the superior. 14 In Crat. immaterial thoughts of their makers. cf.naming and dialectic 139 Forms. Hadot 2004: 65–66. LI) After Socrates has established that a name is an instrument for teaching and dividing. III p.15 On the basis of this passage. but in what he calls the assimilative ( of the image-making power that allows us to make something inferior into the image of something superior. he interrogates Hermogenes about its maker (Crat. Proclus starts his discussion by focusing on the ‘image-making power’ v ) of the human soul that manifests itself in Àgura( tive arts such as painting. 430d10 –11 explicitly compares names to paintings. material images of the internal. 18.14 Just as the divine Intellect contemplates the transcendent Forms themselves directly. & P. Proclus is not interested in our artistic v ) aspect17 potential. Once again Plotinus On Dialectic provides a close parallel. On the question where the principles of dialectic come from. he replies: “Intellect gives the clear principles to any soul that can receive them” (Enn. he tries to show that the products of the human name-maker are analogous to those of the Platonic Demiurge since both names and the material cosmos are external. 4–8). it is reasonable to look at the level of the Forms for the origin of dialectic. I 3 [20] 5. On as a Neoplatonic technical term for causation.

animated statues fashioned by theurgists: T. In the Platonic tradition becoming like god. Van den Berg 2003 for a discussion of the same theme in Proclus. 12–24). . As we shall see. Thus the very activity of naming makes us like God. . . Proclus says that Athena. 21 Given the context. 20 See pp. “establishes everything in the harbor of the Father”. 5.21 And we must revere them because of their kinship to the gods ( ) (In Crat. 1–2. 113. For the image of the paternal harbour. the patron deity of philosophy. Proclus refers to the statues of the gods.19 It is. . Elsewhere in the Commentary on the Cratylus. We have already encountered the comparison of these statues to divine names.3 And just as theurgy by means of certain symbols and ineffable tokens ( v v ) makes the statues here into images of the gods and makes them suitable for the reception of the illuminations from the gods. this divine Intellect is the divine Demiurge. in the same manner the legislative art too by means of that same assimilative power makes names into statues of the things. and once it had fashioned these. we imitate the divine Demiurge. 19 In Crat. no coincidence that Proclus here refers to the theme of assimilation to the divine Intellect. I think. And for that reason the legislator is said to be the master of the generation of names. For intellect is the legislative craftsman of these. by doing philosophy we imitate the divine Intellect and thus elevate ourselves towards it. to become like god means primarily to become like the divine Intellect. 110–111.e. i. This we achieve by doing philosophy. I take it that the intellect mentioned here is the intellect of the human name-giver. who is also the Àrst name-giver.140 chapter five The Àrst example shows that the power that allows us to make names is not an insigniÀcant one. so it is not lawful to sin regarding their names. it handed them over to the people to use. ( ) v as for Plato. . 18 See Sedley 2000 for a treatment of the theme in Plato. CLXXXV p. cf. 19. and just as it is not reverent to transgress against the statues of the gods.e. i. making images of the nature of things by means of such and such sounds ( v ). which places images of their models in them. When we give philosophically sound names based on our contemplation of the Forms. is the ultimate aim of the human life.18 For Proclus. see Van den Berg 2001: 51–56.20 but here Proclus takes things a step further by comparing them to a special type of statues. As an example of the soul’s ability to make what is inferior to itself like something superior to itself. LI p.

c. 23 See p. . 6. Here these symbols are compared to the sounds that make up a name. a statue does so by actually summoning the presence of the deity. the description of a name as a revealing instrument. language is not rooted in the One but in Intellect. I 5 p. a name just describes the deity’s nature. 184: “What does it mean for an interpretation to say that language is rooted in the nature of the One and that all language is a ramification of the two great names for the One.g. plants.e.. Divine names are based on our innate knowledge of the gods. is a wrong reading of this passage.24 This. I harbour serious doubts whether the Theologia Platonica is a theurgical text.. based upon the way of invocation. for example in a hymn or a prayer—that call up an epiphany but that this is not what Proclus says here. 18–23. It may be true that names may function as theurgical symbols—provided that they are used in the appropriate context. Hirschle 1979: 12–19 (note the telling title of his book: Sprachphilosophie und Namenmagie) and more recently Rappe 2000: 167–196. i. and stones that were believed to be sacred to speciÀc gods and when added to a statue of that god. e. o. chapter four § 7. e. See.g. Thus. Proclus here reveals nothing short of a pathway to God. see esp. not the god himeself. pp.). practiced theurgy. see further Sorabji 2004 (I): 381–390 (“theurgy”). they would help to attract the powers of that god. . .6). But what follows from this invocation? The language of the Platonic Theology is a language of vision. e.23 It has been suggested that Proclus here intends to say that names function like theurgical statues in that they too attract divine powers and that by just pronouncing them we may attract divine illumination. we learn in the Cratylus and other dialogues gods about their properties v ) about their names. 174–175). magical rituals as a way to get in touch with the divine. however. If the deepest roots of language can be traced back to the One (. Furthermore. Plat. see. to be discussed below (pp.naming and dialectic 141 As is well known.” I cannot agree with anything of this. . . including Proclus. 24 See. language cannot fail to have theurgic value. His point is that in both cases an artiÀcial man-made thing reveals a deity (cf. 426b ff. so there are in fact conceptual equivalents to these names. As we have seen. Neoplatonists from Iamblichus onwards. that is. according to which the most primitive simple names from which all other names have been constructed are certain sounds which represent certain qualities. The names of the gods that Proclus recites in the Platonic Theology have no conceptual equivalents. . Van den Berg 2001: 66–85 (“The theory behind theurgy”) on symbols. to interpret the text is to invoke these names.. However. 79–81. quite the opposite of by means of intellectual reasoning ( invocation and vision. for the One and the Good? An astonishingly radical view of language is at work in this theory. According to Theol. Therefore.22 In these rituals so-called symbola played an important role: these were certain animals. 22 On Neoplatonic theurgy. for relevant texts and secondary literature.. I take this to refer to he theory of ‘Àrst names’ discussed in Crat.g. 25. p. a name reveals the knowledge of the name-giver about a god.

LI p. 3. RvdB) ‘the Same’ and one ‘the Different’. “Plato’s play on the word ‘law’ ( v ) as a ‘disposition of intellect’ ( Laws 714a1–2) is cited by Proclus as if it were a definition of law and he infers that legislative science is a kind of particular intellect.4 And just as theurgy by means of certain symbols calls forth the ungrudging goodness of the gods in order to illuminate the artiÀcial statues of the gods. has to be associated with our intellect. our faculty for knowledge is the legislative craftsman of names.e. 24–26: v ‘ v ’ . the one who ‘ordains all things’ (Ti. who notes that v . Van den Berg 2005.2 The demiurgical Intellect as name-giver (In Crat. 25 . LI continued) Proclus identiÀes the divine name-giving Intellect with Plato’s Demiurge on the basis of a remark by Socrates in the Cratylus that the name-giver ) is both the rarest among the craftsmen ( v ) who establishes names by law ( v ). 41e2–3). and a legislator ( v Proclus assumes that Socrates describes the name-giver as a craftsman and legislator since his function is analogous to that of the Demiurge. Hence Proclus’ remark (T. whom Plato in the Timaeus describes as a legislator who sets the ‘laws of Fate’ (Ti. our ability to know the metaphysical truth. 2).142 chapter five This interpretation is supported by Proclus’ discussion of divine names as a source of theological wisdom in Theologia Platonica I 29: T.25 Proclus continues: T. and subordinate to. who named one of the circuits (i. an emanation of the divine Intellect. then. Plat. 5. see the discusv sion of Neoplatonic ideas about legislation in O’Meara 2003: 94–98. 19. the legislator is analogous ( ) to him. I 29 pp. as Timaeus says. 5. cf. i. If. On the relation of the legislator to divine Intellect. 42d2–3). in other words that this law is a determination of reason deriving from. won’t you say that he must also In Crat.e. 98). transcendent divine Intellect” (p. the power that we use when we make names. of course. who is also the archetypal name-giver. 5. 124. Therefore this knowledge is holy.5 It is he.3) that it is “not lawful to sin regarding names” of the gods because intellect. 23–125. We may thus conclude that the image-making power of the human soul. in the same way the intellectual knowledge of the divine ( ) the hidden essence of the v ) reveals ( gods by means of the compositions and divisions of sounds (Theol. On divine Intellect as legislator. Our intellect is. of the soul.

Or rather. 2–7). 5. the movement of the Different. 263e3–5. 5. Proclus has this to say about this passage: T. but if the gods create by means of intellection itself. 12–24). the inner. (Plato Ti. if indeed intellection at that level is not separated from creation. According to Plato Sph. ‘ v ’ makes it clear that that they were not named after their substance as a whole. From the ‘soulstuff’ which the Demiurge has just mixed. the Demiurge clearly works in accordance with the rules of correct naming laid down in the Cratylus: he names the things after their characteristic quality. For since the names of the circuits are based on their dominant element. Cornford). 20.6 v v . and naming. In his Commentary on the Timaeus.7 brings out. there is a close relation between intellection. (trans. he makes two circuits which the names ‘Same’ and ‘Different’: T. but the circuit of such a kind that he had made. naming a thing is actually creating it. 36c4–5) The outer circuit he named the movement of the Same. Thus. For the Demiurge did not name the not (yet) existent circuit of the Same in this way. speech its outward expression. casting an image of it “on the stream that Áows from the mouth. II 255. as if in a mirror or in water”.7 And what concerns ‘ v ’ (‘he named’). but that they were named after their dominant part ( v ). What does he mean by this? As T. on the level of the Demiurge.. thus deÀning them. According to Plato Tht. His job as a name-giver actually coincides with that as Craftsman of the universe: according to Proclus.naming and dialectic 143 have the authority to impose names? This is why Plato here called the legislator ‘craftsman’ ( v ) and ‘rarest of the craftsmen’ (In Crat.g. we express our thoughts in names and phrases. Later . And the fact that the names were given after the creation makes it clear that true names aim at the nature of things. thought and speech v ): are one and the same thing ( thought is a monologue intérieur of the soul without sound. e. For in this way they create the things just by naming them (In Tim. It takes its inspiration from certain passages in Plato that stress the close relation between thought and language. 5. creation. 206d 1–5. its creation contains the truest cause of its name and the imposition of a name is its creation. LI p. a recurrent motive in the Platonic tradition. Proclus refers to the passage in the Timaeus that describes the creation of the World Soul. he uses it extremely appropriately in the present context.

7–10: . the ‘image-making faculty’ in the production of speech. 10–11. 7–9: ( ) . This connection between speaking and creation is made explicit by ) given by the Demiurge Proclus when he comments on the speech ( in which the latter instructs the so-called young gods—about whom more later—to do their part in the creation of the world by completing the creation the mortal species which the Demiurge himself had begun. just as speech is the outward expression of the internal thoughts of the individual soul. whereas the thought itself stays within. 19. and particularly 26 Plotinus Enn.g. of our immaterial thoughts..e. but on the concept of logos itself. And he leaves the subsequent creation to the many (sc. 2–5). i. just as our speech and naming are utterances in sound. Universal Soul is the outward expression of the internal thoughts of the hypostasis Intellect.e. For the role of v .8 For he himself begins Àrst with the creation of these as well and he creates them by means of speaking only—for the words of the Father are the demiurgical thoughts and his thoughts are acts of creation. as we have seen. the soul assisted by its verbal imagination ( 27 Plotinus Enn. the distinction itself can be traced back to Plato. Proclus In Crat. V 1 [10] 3. speech ( hands it to the ‘image-making power’ and thus shows that thought as if “in a mirror”. This holds true for the terminology. Plotinus. .26 Plotinus goes on to describe the relation of intellect to soul as analogous to that of soul to speech. in a material form. RvdB) (In Tim.g. IV 3 [27] 30. v . by Henry-Schwyzer in their apparatus and Armstrong in his Loeb edition). where names are presented as a product of the assimilative power of v ). III 222. cf. Proclus comments: T. i. e. LI p. the young gods. v v v .27 Since this Intellect is the universal Demiurge who by contemplating the intelligible Forms produces not just Soul but also the entire material universe.144 chapter five Platonists compare the relation of thought and speech to intellect and soul. speech-like expression of the internal thoughts of Intellect. but. it is only a small step to consider the creation of the latter as the external. gods. 5. cf. picks up on the latter passage when he writes that ) unfolds its content. Plotinus here refers to the distinction made and the (the thought in by the Stoics between the the mind). III 3 observes in this regard that this is a generally accepted distinction that does not depend on any school. As has been noted (e. Porphyry Abst. SVF II 135. In other words.

the Demiurge makes the material cosmos a moving likeness v ) of the eternal intelligible realm. we should not take the idea that the Demiurge creates “reÁections in matter” too literally. “directly connected to him”. 22. Proclus does not draw such subtle theological distinctions between the Demiurge and his image-making power. VI 3 p. and the united nature through multitude (Theol. 2–6. also known as the assimilative gods ( ing gods ( v v ) after their most distinctive characteristic. 124. 16. our power to make likenesses is in fact a divine power. 16. According to Plato Ti. Plat.naming and dialectic 145 of our contemplation of our innate Forms. Plat. Plat.30 Thus. in the same way the entire physical cosmos may be seen as an utterance cast in matter of the contemplation by the Demiurge of the Intelligible Forms. the same Form that is responsible for the horses in this physical cosmos is also the Form that Cf. Proclus explicitly draws the comparison between divine creation and human naming in Theol. I 29 p. in his Commentary on the Cratylus. 5. Plat. VI 1–5. thus ( v v of the eternal gods (Ti. and produces temporal images of eternal things. Plat. their simplicity through variety. and divided ones of undivided things.28 Proclus in the creating an Platonic Theology argues that this image-making power of the Demiurge constitutes a self-contained class of gods. I 29. 12–20). the chapter in which he discusses the role of divine names in the construction of a Platonic theology: T. 29e1–3. yet “essentially different from him”. He does not himself create the things in the physical world out of matter—this is precisely the task of the young gods—rather he provides the formative principles. depicting their uncomposed nature through composition. Proclus Theol. see Theol. Since things are called after their Forms. In both cases these utterances are images of thoughts. the Forms that are present in the material cosmos as opposed to the intelligible Forms contemplated by the Demiurge that remain untouched by matter in the intelligible realm. VI 3 p. I think. VI 3 p. in the same manner. 15.9 For just as the demiurgical Intellect brings into existence reÁections in matter of the Àrst Forms contained in himself. 37c6–d2). 7–14 and Theol. Plat. our knowledge creates by means of speech likenesses of things and particularly of the gods in imitation of the intellectual creation. and trompel’oeil pictures of true beings. 30 On these gods. As we shall see below when we come to discuss the role of the young gods in the creation of the world and in the imposition of names. 29 28 . Proclus Theol.29 These are the so-called leadv ).

the indication from the Timaeus that the Demiurge is both the creator of the physical universe as well as the Àrst name-giver is just a small one. 29–31. cf. after Majercik 1989: 90) reading with Des Places ( Pasquali). LII p. if their name is going to be a correct name at all. They put a lot of energy into showing that what they perceived of as the most important theological traditions. Proclus’ attempt to claim Pythagoras’ as the intellectual father of the Platonic semantic theory (see chapter four § 5 above) should be understood in the same context. which were associated with theurgy and which hence enjoyed an immense authority with many of the Neoplatonists after Plotinus. trans. the Chaldaean Oracles.146 chapter five has to be expressed in their name. the first Intellect. 108 (= Proclus In Crat. 87 (= Proclus In Crat. but one superior to the latter. / who (viz. 20. the intelligible model of the physical universe. Saffrey 1992.10 But a holy name ( v v ). trans. 33 Frg. This type of comparative approach is typical of the Athenian Neoplatonists. 31 32 . in restless motion.c. For a reconstruction of the theology of the Chaldaean Oracles. see Brisson 2003. This is what Proclus means in T.7 when he says that the creation of a thing by the Demiurge—when the Demiurge brings forth its Form from the intelligible realm—also “contains the truest cause of its name and the imposition of a name is creation. 5. And these (intelligibles) are called inexpressible beauties.34 In the Commentary on the Cratylus. / leaps into the cosmoi at the hasty command of the Father33 T. the Intellect) thinks the intelligibles. LII p. On this aspect of Athenian Neoplatonism.11 For the Paternal Intellect has sown symbols ( v ) throughout the cosmos. Proclus now backs up his interpretation of Plato by comparing it to the Chaldaean Oracles. LII p. Plato. LII) As Proclus himself admits. 108. are: T. 5. for the first Intellect and Fr. after Majercik 1989: 82). Note that Proclus’ identification of the Paternal Intellect with the Demiurge is at odds with the original theological system of the Chaldaean Oracles. 1–2. 5.: v . to which the Oracles refer as the second Intellect.” 3. which—Proclus assures us—come from the gods themselves. at least in the version that we have. Proclus does not comment on these oracles.32 The relevant verses. This first Intellect thinks the Forms.3 Additional proof from the Chaldaean Oracles (In Crat. 25f.31 As he often does. Proclus sticks to his erroneous interpretation in the passage from the Commentary on the Timaeus discussed above. Yet something more can be In Crat. see esp. 20. In this system this Intellect is not the Demiurgical Intellect. 114–117. o. 21. and Pythagoras were in harmony with each other and therefore true. but also Orpheus. 34 Frg. pp.

cf. .3. . Proclus Chald. a special role was reserved for divine names. . ) of what it is to be a shuttle into e. 8: . And not just our physical v cosmos. but as the Àrst Oracle suggests. phil. including. 14 where it is connected to the former of the two Oracles. v v (. 109). Segonds 1986: 378 additional note 6 to p. above all. the note ad loc. I note in passing that this text is not an argument against my interpretation of T. Instruments: form and matter ( In Crat. in a process equivalent to that of reminiscence in the Phaedrus.” The ascending soul has to use these remembered symbols as some kind of password to gain access to the Paternal Intellect (Fr. . I 210. v v . at which occasion we shall come back on this elevating function of divine names. 4.38 This mediating name appears again in In Crat. in the Chaldaean rituals such things as plants and minerals could be used as symbols.g.35 As L. 37 Cf.1 Introduction In Crat. 38 On this name cf. 18–22. 150 remarks that according to the theurgists the entire cosmos is full of the names of the gods. . 211. for in his Commentary on the Timaeus Proclus works out its soteriological implications: the Demiurge has placed these symbols in the human soul as signs of the gods which allow us to attract their beneÀcence. 36 Brisson 2003: 116.naming and dialectic 147 said about his interpretation of the second oracle. who had claimed that these symbols are exclusively names. a shuttle. LXXI p. the Àrst. Brisson explains: “the recognition of these symbols is equivalent to the soul’s perception of the Intelligible. “Thus. 215. 33. e. It is by means of the v (‘mediating name’) that we communicate with the gods. 2 who takes issue with Lewy 1978: 190–192. LIII–VIII) 4. for in the latter case Proclus was dealing with man-made names.”36 As we have seen. a piece of wood. . whereas here he discusses names that the gods have revealed to us. Whereas the form will a piece of matter ( 35 In Tim. which enables communication between souls and all gods. but also the worlds above it. Proclus In Alc. in ed.). When a craftsman makes an instrument. the comments by Festugière 1967: 33 n.g. he puts the form ( ). 30–211. For the comparison to the anamnesis-theory in the Phaedrus. 389b–390a Socrates takes a closer look at what it means for a name to be an instrument. V p. 5.37 In a similar vein. the universe appears as a vast system of signs and marks. .

the question whether barbaric divine names are more powerful in rituals than their Greek equivalents. that of he existence of forms of particulars in In Parm. LVII discussed in § 4. III 815. These two issues appear on a list of standard problems regarding the theory of Forms that were discussed in Platonic schools in Antiquity. Following a by now well-know pattern.40 Both Platonic 39 40 On this list. that is because they are made of different bits of matter (different bits of sounds). they will all be made of different pieces of matter. He starts (In Crat. they are the same in regard to their form.4 below) pronounces himself on a serious matter in Neoplatonic theurgy that had already been discussed by Porphyry and Iamblichus. 19. cf. Proclus elaborates on his thesis that naming is a divine art. 21. might leave one with the impression that there exist transcendental Forms of artifacts. LIII and In Crat. Proclus’ treatment of these questions in the Commentary on the Parmenides bears a close resemblance to In Crat. 15–833. and features . Proclus next (In Crat. However. The example of the bed is mentioned in In Crat. 23. LVIII discussed in § 4. 3 ff. 26–829.5 below). 35.2 The form of instruments (In Crat. closely related to the demiurgy of the cosmos. The question of the existence of the forms of artifacts is examined in In Parm. see O’Meara 1999: 263–265. LV. LIII) by discussing the issue of the ‘forms’ of instruments.148 chapter five be the same for all instruments of a certain type. 12–825. LIII) of a shuttle in the Cratylus or about the Socrates’ talk about the form of a bed in Republic X 597b. III 824. He relates Socrates’ explanation of the existence of various languages to the issue of the existence of forms of particulars. He then switches to the matter of instruments (In Crat. Proclus ends his discussion of the nature of tools by using the upshot of the discussion as new ammunition against Aristotle’s claim that names are just conventional (In Crat. also D’Hoine 2004. LIV and LV). III 827.39 Proclus’ own treatment of the list may be found in In Parm. Socrates uses this model to explain the diversity of languages. On the basis of these considerations. LIII p. and hence it will be useful to include them in our discussion of the Commentary on the Cratylus. 4. If (correctly established) languages seem to differ from one another. whether or not such forms actually exist. In his commentary on this passage.

he would say so correctly”. We constantly adapt them to our needs. . . This When they say that that these gods weave. . 7 where Proclus v observes that “one must not.44 This does not mean that the theologians got it all wrong. artifacts lack such a stable nature. 1: . 21. Cf. 13–22.46 It consists in some sort of comparison between two things. 15–17: “if somebody going through the analogies. it is an notion. 44 In Crat. 24.: . neither for no reason. 15 for the divine craftsmen in Greek mythology and Plato. 29–25. such as the weaving young gods in Plato’s Timaeus and Athena. LIII p.47 In the case prominently in Proclus’ discussion of the question of the existence of Forms of artifacts in In Parm.naming and dialectic 149 and traditional Greek mythology—to Proclus nothing else but Platonic philosophy in another format—strengthen this impression. 22. LIII p. thus Proclus. nor because these powers are the ideas of perceptible horses. See In Crat. call the shuttle a “symbol of the discriminating powers of the gods”. LIII. 28 ff. 22: v . Morrow-Dillon). LIII p. . . LVI p. In Crat. LVI p. 9f. 7–13. so they simply have to be right. 106–107) in mind here.42 A clear indication for this is that whereas all things that come into existence through nature43 have a Àxed essence. In Parm. 21. 6–7: v v . 47 In Crat. v . for in myths we Ànd numerous weaving deities. 41 See In Crat. Proclus is convinced that Àgures such as Homer and Orpheus were divinely inspired authorities. mentioned in the discussion of the weaving gods in In Crat. 40–986. 45 Cf. Proclus mentions the case of the Phaedrus myth in which Plato refers to the powers of the soul as ‘horses’. nor is an analogy completely arbitrary as an Aristotelian symbol is. would call the powers of the gods the causes of these crafts . 21. because of the addition of ‘itself ’ immediately assume that one is inquiring into the intelligible Forms in the strict sense. 42 In Crat. III 827. while the “theologians”.LIII p. 21. because all classes of Forms are given the epithet ‘itself ’ in order to distinguish them from particulars” (trans. on this passage see further Steel 2003. LVI. 46 In Crat.41 Proclus is at pains to correct this erroneous impression: there are no metaphysical Forms of artifacts. 24. LIII p. LVI for the shuttle as a symbol for divine activities. is more fully discussed in In Crat. Circe and other gods in Greek mythology. 43 In Crat.45 Analogy is neither the same as the relation of Form to participant (say of the Form Horse to a particular horse). v . Proclus clearly has the Aristotelian sense of ‘natural’ (see pp. It is through falling into this error that certain theorists have postulated Forms of evil things and of artificial ) because of the ‘shuttle itself ’ in the Cratylus ( objects ( ) and ‘impiety itself ’ in the Euthyphro. V 985.

the divine weavers. Damascius In Phd. 11 ( gods who are said to be the patrons of the arts. LXIII p. unify opposites like. 6–273. scientiÀc ( v ) forms. the mortal to the immortal.. LIII p. the gods may be called the patrons ( of the arts. demiurgical deities. From the fact that a shuttle supposedly has magical powers in ritual contexts. what names are to the legislator and what all encosmic things are to the Demiurge. and forms regarding opinion ( ). ). in the case of the carpenter it is some kind of blue print of a shuttle. on the notion of theurgical sympathy. the instrument that creates a uniÀed fabric by dividing warp and woof. for that matter.1 below. From the intellectual Forms come all perceptible things. 5. In the case of the human craft of weaving. LIII p. 265b2–c3.g. e. 14–15 discussed in § 5. cf. where. 140–142. of which there exists no intelligible Form. Thus.50 In the case of the analogy between the craftsman who makes a shuttle. it appears furthermore that analogy is not just a matter of convention. Proclus In Parm.. In Crat.12 Therefore. 48 . from the scientiÀc forms the names. 25. The For the ritual powers of these objects on the basis of analogy. 25–28. the threads that are united into one fabric remain clearly distinguishable from each other.48 )49 and guardians Therefore. the shuttle is to the carpenter. LVI p. the perceptible to the intellectual” (In Crat. The Demiurge. see pp. see In Crat. Proclus identifies this class of divinities with the guardian daemons that the souls choose as part of their future lives before being born. it is daemons not III 829. “the generated to the eternal. and from the forms based on opinion the shuttles (In Crat. bodies to the incorporeal. II 271.150 chapter five of the divine weavers and human weavers the point of comparison is that they both unify different things into a single whole in such a manner that the different parts do not fuse with each other. I 480. In the case of the Demiurge these are the intelligible Forms. 21–23). LIII p. 1–7. even though intelligible Forms of either arts or artifacts do not exist.g. see further. the name-giver and the Demiurge. 50 In Crat. cf. 23.. 49 The Platonic source text is probably Plato Phdr. Proclus In RP. In an analogous fashion. the name-giver and the carpenter thus all have forms in their mind on the basis of which they create something. the point of comparison is that they all put a single form into different pieces of matter: T. 27. 22. 21–25). in such a way that these are still recognizable as opposites. e. there exist three sorts of forms: intellectual ( ) Forms. The shuttle. be it that these are different types of forms. 5 and cf. 22. is the appropriate symbol of this divine activity.

as we have seen. the art of naming should be counted among the sciences that elevate us to Intellect. v .naming and dialectic 151 name-giver stands somewhere in between these two. The study of these sciences thus redirects our attention from the material world to the intelligible world of Forms. LIV). 52 53 In Parm. III 828. such as arithmetic. 26–829. names are man-made artifacts. or ministering to the needs of human life” only. There. is provided by nature (In Crat. it forces us to look upward to the Forms in order to make verbal likeness of them. the object of contemplation of the divine Intellect.g. Proclus starts by denying that there are Forms of artifacts and arts. III 827. On the one hand. III 828. on the other hand they are. III 829. 2–7 (trans. In this way these sciences “join us with Intellect”. 30–31: v . notably a passage 51 In Parm. Proclus’ discussion of the existence of Forms of artifacts from In Parm. As we have seen.3 The matter of instruments (In Crat. Proclus In Crat. For. such as the bed from Republic X. LV elaborates on this issue which. is tied up with the question of how the one Form Man can be the cause of the multitude of different individual men. or occupied with mortal things. 21 throws some interesting light on this text. Morrow-Dillon): v v v v v v . The soul has a power to produce theorems about these.53 As we have already seen. geometry from other arts or sciences ( and astronomy.51 We have to distinguish these arts ( v ). These are things “that the soul uses when it is at play. e. The latter are the likenesses of intellectual Forms. like shuttles. related to intelligible reality. it is time to turn to the Now that we have discussed the of names which. Plato explained the existence of different languages from the differences in matter in which one and the same form had been incorporated.52 These sciences owe their elevating character to their objects. like these other sciences. Àgures and numbers. this passage is very condensed and it helps considerably to take other passages into account. that “elevate the soul and make it like Intellect” and of which “we shall posit Forms to which they make us like”. . . 22–24: In Parm. says Proclus. 4. which ) resides in its opinative faculty. As so often in the Commentary on the Cratylus. LIV–LV) of a name. for him.

have to be brought into being in order that the universe is perfect and complete. These lesser creatures. 4–6) and In Crat.57 According to the Timaeus. 42 d 6. LV p.g.55 Proclus explains this by means of the example of a man. cf. 8–11 for allussions to this phrase.. LV p. 41 a–d).54 The second ) one. Proclus starts In Crat. He 41 c 5f. 22. v 59 Cf. 22. to whom both the heavenly bodies and the traditional Greek gods who manifest themselves through epiphanies belong. 24. mortal men differ in “size. creation. is itself unchanging. 9–10 ( v ). because this would result in another set of gods. 22. 14–16: the young gods fabricate all these different individuals in order to achieve “the fulfillment of the universe” ( ). The Demiurge is reals. the Demiurge creates these gods. consists in the stage of creation. 58 Cf. LV p. The Form Man that is the formal cause of all encosmic men. . e. The v ). For the name. but they have to “weave immortal to mortal” (Ti. the so-called particular (v creation of the particulars on the basis of the universal Forms to which the particular differentiae are added. LIII p. 5 ( ). 41 d 1–2: ).152 chapter five from the Commentary on the Timaeus on demiurgy and one from the Commentary on the Parmenides on the issue of forms of individuals. see the helpful discussion by Opsomer 2003. LV by discussing the creation of the individuof the universe is two-fold.. 1–3: . 24. universal ( his contemplation of the intelligible Forms that are the formal causes of the universe and that do not admit of any change. LIII p. forever the same. 3–4: v v v v v 55 56 57 v v v In Crat. Proclus In Crat. 24.58 The Demiurge cannot do this himself. 24. see Plato Ti. 8: v . he explains. In Crat. which results from sponsible for the Àrst. v v v ). Proclus In Crat. the color of their skin and the like”. He addresses them in a speech in which he delegates to them the task of making the inferior living creatures (Ti. v On Proclus’ interpretation of the young gods.59 54 In Crat. In Crat. However. LV p.: v v v himself will make the immortal aspect of the mortal beings. Proclus In Crat. LV p. LV p. He therefore orders the young gods to “imitate my power in generating you” (Ti. 24. not in mortal beings.56 Responsible for this second creation are the so-called young gods ( ).

But the discussion from In Parm. it could be the order of the universe. which he discusses at length in In Parm. Yet.naming and dialectic 153 Plato may have introduced the young gods just in order to keep the Demiurge separated from matter and to give the traditional Greek gods a place in his cosmos. colors. like a Form of the individual Socrates? If we do so. 13–26 and esp.e. or if several. or the various regions ( v ). for Proclus explains that the gods that superintend these causes do so due to their own special properties: T. 13–18. I 99. As we have seen. explaining that that these by their movements generate the individual differences: since they move into different positions they will produce different things (p. the young gods are associated with the (moving) heavenly bodies. the properties of the seasons. For Proclus. III 824.14 [they] differ from one another in the shapes. you could name the motion of the heavens. 5. 6 indeed ascribes the ‘second demiurgy’ to the stars. and hence that the individual Socrates is the same for all eternity. 18–22 for a comparable list of qualities including v speech that differ because of different local gods ( . speech and motion particular to them (In Parm. Proclus In Crat. It is here that the young gods from the Timaeus come in. i. since Forms are stable and unchanging. so we have need to posit some sort of cause of individuals. that of the causation of individuals. not. 24. postulate apart from the Form Man also Forms of individuals. 35. 12–825. the Platonic passage about these gods and their activity of weaving mortal and immortal together held the key to the solution of a thorny problem. if not Forms: T. their products too are stable and unchanging. Proclus wonders there. or the gods that superintend theses causes ( ). LV p. III 825. immortal. III 825. 5. 24. of course.13 If you want a single cause. . 13–16). 21–23. Morrow-Dillon). Morrow-Dillon). everything that comes into being has been caused in one way or another. even though this passage does not mention them explicitly. whereas in fact he was. We should thus rule out the existence of Forms of individuals. III has even more to offer. Should we. for all of these are involved in the making of individuals ( ) (In Parm.60 60 v v Cf. trans. “the motions of the heavens”. v v v v ). Proclus In Tim. we have to assume that. though. the particular natures.

154 chapter five So. the v ) mentioned in T. 13–16).61 These are things of which the god invoked is directly or indirectly the cause. As we have already mentioned (chapter three § 4. For the rulers of the various regions ( v ) like to be named in accordance with the dialects of their own regions ( ) (In Crat. the “rulers of the various regions” are the causes of the various languages spoken in those regions. we have to use names that are agreeable to the gods.4 Barbarian versus Greek divine names (In Crat. 5. we have seen that the namegiver is like the Demiurge. The “rulers of the various regions” ( v ) are. and so we may expect that when. apparently. In order to attract the benevolence of or the gods. praying to Athena in Athens. will produce Scythian names. weaving the form into acoustic matter. Iamblichus had defended the claim that Greek divine names were less appropriate and therefore less powerful than their barbaric equivalents. Proclus agrees with Iamblichus that for prayers to be effective. LVII p. with typical Greek features. 4. whereas another being Scythian. of course.15 Therefore Proclus says that the Greeks need not use the Egyptian names of the gods.13 gods associated with speciÀc regions ( above. the region 61 On which see pp. in the case of local gods. LVII uses his explanation of the variety of languages to decide on the heavily disputed question among Neoplatonists whether the Greeks should invoke the gods by their barbarian names instead of their Greek ones. but they need to use the Greek ones. And since one name-giver will be Greek. LVII) Proclus In Crat. in that he produces images as the products of his contemplation of the Forms. A more detailed examination of the process of demiurgy reveals that the human name-giver rather resembles the young gods. This remark should be understood against the background of Proclus’ theory of theurgy. As we have seen. one has to invoke them by means of so-called v v . The excerptor reports that T. the same god who causes Ethiopians to be black also makes them speak Ethiopian. what is most pleasing to them is their own local language. 5. . neither the Scythian or Persian ones. say. he will produce Greek names. Previously. 140–142 above.2). 25. Yet.

16 Things that are by nature are the same in all cases Names are not the same in all cases. 25. 17–20). I 98. 31–99. see pp.e. two cities that both belong to the goddess Athena. 25. Proclus explains that it is perfectly well possible to signify the same things by different sounds ( . 26–27.65 In either case. Proclus now launches a new argument against Aristotle’s claim that names are by imposition. yet some have better eyes than others.e. 3. T. just as one can have statues of one and the same deity that have been made of different materials. 118–121 above. for instance. On the basis of Aristotle’s ) that are not the same are conventional symbols in sound ( for all.63 Proclus hastens to criticize every step of the argument. Aristotle fails to demonstrate that names are not by nature. that in different languages one and the same thing is called by different names. differ in intensity. then because of this identical form. 66 In Crat. i. Int. 24–27. If.64 Natural things may.66 For. 63 For the practice of reformulating Aristotelian texts into syllogisms.naming and dialectic 155 of which she is the ruler. 65 Cf. not —i.e. 1. see T. However. As we have seen. it is still the same name in all cases. In Crat. 5.11—Proclus constructs the following syllogism. . 25. the discussion in In Tim. LVIII p. 18–22). But even if one were to accept the two premises.62 4. see In Tim. a name consist of a form that may be expressed in various sorts of acoustic matter. 25. Eyes are clearly natural. LVIII p. 21–23. she will like it best when she is invoked by her Attic name.5 Another refutation of Aristotle (In Crat. invoke her by different names. He Àrst attacks the premiss that names are not the same in all cases. Therefore natural things are not names and names are not by nature (In Crat. LVIII) On the basis of the foregoing discussion. 7 where Proclus raises the question why the Athenians and the inhabitants of Saïs. still the conclusion “is no more Aristotelian than Platonic”. one might also argue that natural things need not be the same in all cases. later in his discussion with Cratylus 62 Cf. I 99. In Crat. His solution is clearly inspired by the discussion in the Cratylus. a Greek and an Egyptian name. 64 Cf. 16a3–9: names by nature. as Plato says. the different sounds are due to the difference in location. LVIII p. LVIII p. one of the reason to reformulate a text into syllogism is to test the argument. i.

The Cratylus thus distinguishes between two different groups of people who use the products of the name-giver.67 Many Neoplatonists. LXIII where he discusses the mediate position of the name-giver. Just as Proclus had previously identiÀed the divine name-giver with the Demiurge. 27. cf. LXIII) Having discussed the double nature of a name and its craftsman. including for instance Proclus’ own pupil Ammonius. I 129e and Proclus In Alc.70 More importantly still. the laws. LIX–LXVII) 5. however. LXIII p. 68 67 . on the other hand. whereas it uses its body as an instrument. 13.69 Proclus it as a Àrst principle and as a given ( compares this to the mediate position of the human soul who has its superior guardian daemon as a leader and patron. 390b–d) next turns to the supervisor of the name-giver. he will now identify the divine dialectician. 73. the dialectician. 70 For the body as the instrument of the human soul.156 chapter five Socrates will show that names are not products of nature (cf. with the divine supervisor of the Demiurge. Plato Alc. The dialectician: the user of names ( In Crat. there is the dialectician who is clearly superior to the name-giver. while it escapes Aristotle that Plato distinguishes two sense of natural. will use this line of argument to bring out the essential harmony between Plato and Aristotle. 8–75. already mentioned in the prolegomena. 201–205. See pp.1 Cronus the divine dialectician (In Crat. Crat. He does so in In Crat. 13–14.68 Proclus. 5. there is the rest of the population that receives the names as a sort of laws to which it should obey. On the one hand. 106–109. 69 In Crat. uses it to expose Aristotle as a quarrelsome thinker who wants to criticize Plato so desperately that he does not see that what he claims does not necessarily contradict Plato’s position. this pattern repeats itself See pp. Socrates (Crat. the latter uses these laws as an instrument ( v ). 435a–d). Proclus explains that whereas the former uses ). The discussion starts with an aporia: it ) that both the dialectician who is may seem strange ( superior to the legislator and the judge who is inferior to the legislator use his work.

73 Zeus. Zeus. 23. LVI esp. pp. In Crat. because he remains aloof from the material world. completely engaged in the contemplation of the intelligible. At this point Proclus elaborates on his metaphysical interpretation of the gods Cronus and Zeus. Cronus the name “Cronus” ( is a pure intellect. 15–17. 19–24. he thinks the intelligible world as a uniÀed whole of separated Forms. 28. Proclus offers a fuller treatment of the relation of Cronus to Zeus in Theol. 72 71 . 4–6. he does not contemplate the intelligible Forms directly. thus weaving ) between souls. In Crat.72 The human dialectician imitates him when he divides reality at its joints while weaving a fabric of discourse by means of names. 73 See In Crat. V 5 esp. who contemplates the intelligible world. 75 For a discussion of this passages. 26–28. LXIII p. 24. Proclus makes much of this when he discusses Plato’s explanation of ) as a pure ( ) intellect ( ). In doing so. not just contemplates the intelligible above.2) and as we are reminded in In Crat. Plat. some kind of communion ( 74 In Crat. Zeus. In Crat. LI p. 26–27.naming and dialectic 157 at the level of the divine legislator. LXIII p. the paradigm of human legislators. 27. 20. while at the same unifying the plurality thus created. i. is another member of the triad of Cronus. Yet. he produces the ‘laws of Fate’ or Dike. the highest cause of combinations and discriminations of the intelligible ( ). Proclus identiÀes Cronus with the Àrst member of the intellectual triad (Nous).71 i. This discussion points forward to the detailed interpretation of Hesiod’s theogony with which Proclus ends his Commentary on the Cratylus. his daughter. the Demiurge. the Demiurge. L for the separating power of names. but also creates a material image of it. Zeus is the intellectual (contemplating) deity and Cronus the intelligible (contemplated) deity. see Brisson 2002a: 445–448. LXXIII p. 27. 18–21 for the fact ( that names not just separate but also allow us to share our thoughts. thus Proclus. 27. this material cosmos.e. whereas the Zeus the Demiurge organizes the perceptible world and exercises In Crat. as does Cronus. He is. as the thoughts of Cronus. p.74 Hence within the intellectual triad. 17–18 ). As we have seen (§ 3. She maintains the laws that have been ordained by Zeus in the cosmos. cf. Zeus himself legislates under the supervision of his father Cronus. 21 in which Proclus discusses the role of Cronus in the Cratylus. he divides up the intelligible. 4. is the Àrst legislator.e.75 Whereas Cronus is happy just to contemplate the intelligible. but indirectly. LXIII p. the Demiurge.

e. these periods stand for two different aspects of the cosmos. seeking to enlarge the common pool of wisdom (Proclus In Crat. focussing especially on the interpretation by Proclus. the presence of intellect in it. 396b. LXIII p. these are alternating periods. 268d–274e. Yet. The age of Cronus is the so-called “invisible life of the cosmos”. 57. Plat. these “nurslings of Cronus” ( . 6 and the helpful discussion by Dillon 1995 of the Neoplatonic exegesis of the myth. V 6 p. 25. 15–16. . the material cosmos.e.e. together with Cronus. such as sheltering. LXIII p. Plat. together with the equally intelligent animals. discussed by Dillon 1995: 371–2. As part of this activity. 79 See Theol. cf. i. see Plato Plt.76 Proclus connects this interpretation of Cronus as a pure Intellect and Zeus as a demiurgical Intellect to his interpretation of the myth from the Statesman. the Demiurge. Cronus uses ( 81 as an “upward leading path”. the thoughts of Cronus. see Proclus In Crat. 28.78 Plato contrasts this happy period to the rough period that the world is currently going through. 81 In Crat. clothing and food had been taken care v of. 272bc2–4). the cosmic intellect. yet he does not exclude the possibility that in fact they waisted their time doing more mundane things. which consists in the organization of the material cosmos. as appears from the fact that draws up the laws of Destiny. living a blissful existence. 272b8) used their abundant spare time to do philosophy. 28. 10–14 = Plato Plt. they might have done philosophy. see especially Theol. he introduces intellect in the cosmos. As we shall see in the next paragraph. i. According to Proclus. 80 In Crat. whereas the age of Zeus is the “visible life of the cosmos”. LXIII p. In this manner. according to Proclus’ interpretation of the myth. 18–21. 28. for this interpretation. 2–13. 21–30.158 chapter five providence towards his inferiors. that of a Golden Age under the rule of Cronus when living was easy. p. for Proclus’ interpretation. Zeus. pp. Cronus had organized the universe in such a way that all the necessary conditions of life. 77 For the myth. CVII esp. so we may expect a next Golden Age in the future. thus allowing them to contemplate the intelligible with him. 26.79 According to Proclus. 8–10. It may prompt human souls to look for its ) the products of Zeus paradigm.80 He does so by means of his creation.77 This myth takes up a theme from Greek mythology. This cosmos is an image of the intelligible cosmos. Zeus leads the human souls to the realm of Cronus. 76 Plato Crat. Àlled with dialectical activity. 3 ff. On the one hand. 78 According to Plato himself. i. is responsible for both. V 7–8 pp. This is the age of Zeus. According to the myth. Plt.

LXI) in connection to this passage from the Cratylus: why does Socrates call himself a dialectician. i. According to Proclus. 29–30. 22–26. LXVI p. thus resembling Hermes. but to that of his innate Forms. cf. the philosopher only has an illumination ). as happens in the case of teaching one how to dance In Crat. e. 5. 98. VI 22 p. 12. 28. Proclus Theol.2 Socrates the human dialectician (In Crat. The Demiurge as the Àrst legislator thus sets the paradigm of human legislation. for instance. Plat. Whereas true Intellect has the total sum of knowledge of beings in itself in actuality. This appears. the patron deity of philosophical discourse. 14–17. just as Cronus uses the images created by Zeus to lead the souls upwards. 407e –408a. 68. 84 In Crat. need not be told what to do and what not to).82 As a dialectician he uses the names. but not a teacher? Proclus answers that Socrates was not a teacher in the sense that he installed knowledge in the soul of his pupil that previously had not been there. In Crat.g. philosophical lives have. 26.e.. “as he says of himself”. LXVII). For the Neoplatonists. of course. Hermes is not primarily the deceptive word painter of Crat. LXIV–LXVII) Proclus ends his discussion of the dialectician as the one who uses names by bringing the discussion back from the level of Cronus and Zeus to that of human beings. For Hermes as a patron deity of philosophical discourse. for Socrates is a dialectician. At the same time Zeus runs the material universe through the laws of Fate. cf. LXI p. Proclus stresses the point that the human dialectician is only an intellect in a secondary sense. LXIV p. where for that reason he is called “our lord Hermes”.. of the patron deity of philosophers.naming and dialectic 159 names spoken by the philosopher function in an analogous manner. They are images of the thoughts of the philosopher that may lead the student to study the metaphysical reality to which these names refer. CXVII p. so the student is not led towards the contemplation of the intelligible Forms themselves. a faint image of Intellect ( ) as it of Intellect ( were.83 All the same. from a question that Proclus had previously raised (In Crat. This legislation is necessary to keep those living Zeusian lives in check (those living Cronian. 83 82 .84 Just as the philosopher himself is only a faint image of intellect. but the god of the philosophical logos. the role of Socrates in the Cratylus is analogous to Intellect (In Crat. the philosopher knows the methods of discovery and instructs these to his pupil. 21–22. images of the things fashioned by a name-giver. 28. In Crat.

. 181–182 below. 8–10 and the discussion by Steel 1997a.160 chapter five or how to write. his intellections of the intelligible world. the beautiful material world to lead human souls back to its paradigm. it appears from this chapter. Producing likenesses. for paintings or statues of persons or gods. precisely the activation of our innate notions about the gods. explains. Cronus uses the creation of Zeus. 16. 86 See pp. For the soul as a writing tablet upon which is constantly being written. 26. but also for correctly given names.”85 As we shall see in the next chapter. 4. see especially p. learning consists in recollection. LXI p. Dialectic consists in activating and articulating our innate Ideas. one of the functions of etymology is. The activity of the human name-giver is thus analogous to that of the divine Intellect that produces the material cosmos as an image of the intelligible cosmos. 414c5: “the Àrst names ‘covered over’ ( given to things have long been covered over by those who dress them up” by adding and subtracting letters.1). 85 In Crat. This knowledge we derive from doing dialectic. The pure Intellect (Cronus). 26–27. The expression v ) has been taken from Crat. for example. This holds true. This contemplation informs the creative activity of the demiurgical Intellect (Zeus and his assistants. to lead his student Hermogenes towards the paradigm of these names. even though they have been covered over. consist in embodying a certain form that we have in our mind into a piece of matter. the young gods). Proclus. In the same manner Socrates in the Cratylus uses the products of the namegiver. Conclusions Proclus believes that the aim of the Cratylus is to reveal “the generative activity and assimilative power” of the soul (T. the correctly established names. “For”. Yet in another sense he was a teacher.86 6. in calling forward the innate knowledge in the soul of the student. contemplates the intelligible Forms or Ideas. but it possesses them actually. 299 for the comparison of the soul to a writing tablet. In the latter case we put our knowledge about a thing into a bit of sound. “the soul is not like a blank writing tablet. according to Proclus. see Proclus In Euclid. the innate Ideas that both he and Hermogens possess. For in the case of philosophy. analogous to the human dialectician. nor does it possess the things only potentially.

he needs another 66 pages to deal with the next 11 Stephanus pages (i. signiÀcant that in his other works he refers almost exclusively to the etymologies of divine names. Therefore. we cannot exclude the possibility that Proclus discussed the entire etymological section. this is only what one would expect. since knowledge is about eternal things only. 2 To give a rough impression of the attention paid to this part of the dialogue: whereas it took Proclus some 46 pages in Pasquali’s edition to discuss about the 13 Stephanus pages (i. Introduction In the previous chapter we have seen that Proclus assumes that the Cratylus instructs its reader not just about the basic elements of dialectic. 396a–407b. In keeping with Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus.5 pages pro Stephanus page). after which the commentary breaks off. In the etymological section his interest is almost exclusively in divine names. As we have also seen.2 In a way. given the fact that Proclus tends to consider Platonic metaphysics.CHAPTER SIX PROCLUS’ COMMENTARY ON THE CRATYLUS (III): LEARNING FROM DIVINE NAMES 1. Only names of the latter type are a source of knowledge. In this chapter.e. Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus has not been preserved intact. Next. correctly established names. some 3.e. Therefore. but also about the basic elements of reality by means of etymology. It will turn out that Proclus distinguishes between different types of divine names. 1 Admittedly. the study of these eternal entities. i. we shall move to the etymologies of these divine names and examine what role they play in Proclus’ philosophy. Proclus considers divine names as the prototypes of these names and he tends to narrow the discussion of this type of names down to these.e. As we have seen in chapter four. It is. we shall Àrst discuss the nature of divine names. we shall turn to Proclus’ treatment of the etymological section of the Cratylus. as a sort of theology.1 To Proclus these etymologies were clearly a very important aspect of the Cratylus and he spends half his commentary discussing Crat. however. this chapter will focus on Proclus’ ideas about divine names. 6 pages pro Stephanus page). Proclus distinguishes between two types of names: those of mortal individuals and those of eternal beings. .

yet he remains unconvinced of the opposite thesis. that there exists a natural correctness of names. and took his poems for divine revelations. 25–170. the one that brings about perfect persuasion. see also Pinchard 2003. this passage as the Ànal argument for the natural correctness of names. For these and other explanations. i.6 For a similar distinction between human and divine language. So he asks Socrates to really convince him of this. Hermogenes’ position that the correctness of names depends on convention alone may have been refuted. which in turn might inspire others. In Crat. see further pp. Surely. p.5 It is for this reason that Proclus considers. we have the hill to assume that the gods call things by their naturally correct names (Crat. the bird v which is known as to the gods. LXX addresses this issue. 392a6 for a small bird is better than its human equivalent v . 5 Proclus shows himself aware that his attitude towards Homer sits ill with Plato. 114. whereas here he welcomes him as an authority on names? Because in the Republic Plato is concerned with the education of the young. 252b. II 169. 6 Cf. 391 e–392 b. Poets may mention these divine names in order to impress their audience with their privileged knowledge. Why does Plato ban Homer from his ideal state in the Republic. However. where the Homeridae are mentioned as the authorities on divine language. called by Examples are the names of the river the divine name of which is . cf. as we have seen. or to explain the existence of two names for one and the same thing. 4 seems a clear instance of Socrates’ infamous irony. Plato Phdr. The nature of divine names ( In Crat. here.e. On this issue. 4 Crat.162 chapter six 2. Socrates’ remark that it is “no triÁing matter” v v ) to know to what extent the divine name (Crat. In corroboration of his point. he is talking to those who are able to receive the inspiration from the poet. For a discussion of Plato’s and Proclus’ views on divine language.3 The modern reader might be tempted not to take this passage very seriously. Proclus deals with the same aporia at length in his sixth essay on the Republic in which he offers the same solution. 168–169 below. and the gods. he lists this passage from the Cratylus as evidence of Plato’s positive attitude towards Homer (In RP. the Athenian Neoplatonists considered Homer to be an inspired sage. 3 . Doesn’t Homer distinguish between the names by which humans call things and those by which the gods call them? v . Socrates tries to do so by an appeal to the authority of Homer. LXXI) At the end of his discussion with Socrates. see further Janko 1992: 197. 26). in stark contrast to Plato’s criticism on Homer in the Republic. 391c–d). on the other hand.

” 8 In Crat. Yet. . 29. The crux of the issue is that. 29. His point of departure is the following aporia: “do there exist secret names at the level of the gods themselves?”8 The ancients seem to disagree with each other: some hold that the gods themselves transcend this type of designation (p. in support of his claim that the divine on the level of the One cannot be named. 27f. Proclus argues that the Henads are ineffable and hence have no names. In Platonic dialectic one divides reality by determining the unique property of each class of things that sets it apart from all other classes of things.: ). The gods at the level of the One.: v ). 29. Because of their absolute one-ness. names are an expression of knowledge that is based on dialectic.9 The gods have (1. can be named. 29.e. compelled by a desire to perfect themselves. at the level of the One and the Henads there can be no analysis of this sort. The gods at the level of Intellect. 21–22: “However. others maintain that there are names even among the gods ).e.learning from divine names 163 Proclus In Crat. the intellectual or noeric gods revert back on them. In Crat.) a uniform and ineffable existence (p.) an intellect. the intelligible or noetic gods. (2. by contrast.: Proclus starts his examination of the question from the triadic structure of the divine. LXXI uses this passage as an opportunity to reÁect on the nature of divine names. LXXI p. 25f.7 in particular those used by the gods themselves. whereas the intermediate level of power constitutes the stage at which the gods can and cannot be named. Figure 1 for a graphical representation of this complicated text.) a power which generates all things ( v ) and (3. LXXI p. they contemplate the intelligible gods. a brief treatment of these is called for. for this would involve a degree of plurality. the Henads cannot have unique properties. From them proceeds their creative power. Proclus quotes Parm. since the present discussion is about divine names. as we have seen. which is full of thoughts v ). 142a3f. According to this text. i. 29. of the highest rank (p. 22–24: v v v 9 Cf. In that case the Henad would be something with a property. The reader acquainted ( with Proclus’ philosophy will immediately recognize in this triad the circular process of Proclean emanation. i. there can be neither a name 7 Cf. 28f. while their products. the Henads—the One to the extent that it is participable—remain unchanged at their own level.

this part of the commentary on the Parmenides has only been preserved in the obscure Latin translation by William of Moerbeke. the One would not be one. It is there that we Ànd the Àrst thing that can be said Plato Parm. nor knowledge. by contrast. Our names for other things. which are united with the One itself and which are being called ‘occult’ ( v ). and so the Àrst principle will not be one. 67.2 About the Àrst genera of the intelligible gods. This is proved from the rules about names which are plainly stated in the Cratylus (In Parm. Fr. 123. LXXI p. 28: v . 13 In Crat. since it cannot be analyzed into any simpler names. are based on our knowledge of them. cf. VII 510. but the emanation of the intelligible gods needed to end in this order. if one were able to say. He thus assumes that there must be an intermediate stage in between the completely ineffable One and the level at which things can be known and hence be named: T. 10 . 32. 21–124.. then ‘One’ has to be reduced to its letters.13 Proclus believes that emanation is a gradual process. 18–21. cf. that there is no name of the One) we can understand when we take into consideration that we have to explain everything that is a name of something by nature and Àts the object named either by analysis into simple names or by reduction to its letters. So the letters of which it is composed will have to represent something of its nature. CXV p. 89–509. VII 508. 6. 132 = In Crat. In Proclus’ own words: T. 11 Sadly enough. 2 and In Crat. If this is so. I 29 p. nor sense-perception nor opinion. LXXI p. Theol. 62 (partly discussed here). trans. or opine something about the One. 6. 97 ed.11 According to Proclus. 49–56. 142a3f. there is a lot that is unknowable and ineffable. 50–62. which consist in a natural desire for oneness. A Greek retroversion of this translation by Steel & Rumbach 1997 and an annotated French translation by Steel 2004 have done much to clarify this important text. perceive. VII K-L 50.164 chapter six of the One nor a description. the realm of the One is that of silence. it would no longer be completely one. 12 Proclus In Parm. 25–6. Steel.: v v . but to our concept of it. 63. 32. the expression has been borrowed from the Chaldaean Oracles.. Proclus comments on this passage in In Parm.12 Since there is nothing that can be said about it. 116 = In Crat. For what is in every respect ) does not touch on the clear and effable ( completely ineffable. know. the name ‘One’ that we use does not refer to the unnamable One itself. So if it had a name. CX p. Morrow-Dillon 1987: 591 adapted). Plat. Fr.1 This (viz. 19–20.10 For. But each of them will represent something different. for example.

32. 145: “contemplate the shape of light which has been stressed forth. 14–15. 31. 27–28: . 16 . 80. 12–13: In Crat. In Crat.2. LXXI p. Plat III 22 p. i. III 22 p. 25 continues to describe the intellectual member of the intelligible triad as an intelligible ). Proclus Theol. a light that “shines on all things and which light ( strikes those able to contemplate it with awe. there is no room for the existence of separate Forms there. Form is a being and not simply being ( ). The middle member of the triad is the productive power that generates the plurality of Forms. yet not articulated. Proclus quotes Chaldaean Oracle Fr. LXXI p. 6. 31. 20–26. Plat. 80. offers a good description of this process. .2). vv v v v . 51. Theurgical invocations. In support of this.”14 The Commentary on the Cratylus likewise associates these gods with light and illumination (cf. the essential point in the whole discussion is that names are supposed to be the products of knowledge and that this implies that only objects that have an identity of their own that can be known can be named. and since a the triad is Being itself ( .e. As we have stressed before. For it is there that the intellectual nature of the intelligible gods is for the Àrst time illuminated in accordance with the prime Forms (Proclus In Crat. This is “the intellectual nature of the intelligible gods” mentioned in T. but when it shines out it acquires various shapes. T. III 14 p. work up to the intellectual limit of the intelligible 14 15 Proclus Theol Plat. 32. LXXI pp. The third member of the triad Ànally is that plurality of Beings. a discussion of the intelligible triad. Proclus Theol. yet is not that plurality of Forms. those of the Forms. 6. Proclus had already given a description of the divine light that shines forth from the level in between the effable and the ineffable: it is uniÀed and shapeless when it is with the gods. On the level of the intelligible gods a gradual process of the differentiation gives rise to these objects of knowledge.learning from divine names 165 and be called by its own names ( v v ). “for it is there that Being is divided”. LXXI p. 23–25). we are told (p.”15 Proclus informs us that theurgy imitates this process by means of sound that is uttered. Previously (In Crat. The Àrst member of ).16 Proclus collaborates his theory about the Àrst names by an appeal to theurgy and the Orphic poems. 31. 8–28). 28–30).

7–20 ed. 19–22. In this respect he thus differs signiÀcantly from most Neoplatonists who believe that the entire intelligible realm has been named by means of analogy. once again on the basis of analogy. Proclus In Crat. In other words. VII 512. which lacks a determinate nature because it is too far removed from the One. since Phanes is the Àrst real name.166 chapter six v realm.g. Proclus quotes the following Orphic verses in support of his interpretation of the Orphic material: T. ‘matter’ and ‘the underlying’. 16–20: “For their nature does not allow it that they are known through names.. and the ‘Egg’ are not the proper names of these gods.20 17 18 See. The reason for this is that these gods cannot be known. 33. As the name of the Orphic god ) indicates. pure matter too. e. ‘Chaos’. But if it had been possible to name these and to grasp them by means of knowledge. he is the light ( ) that shines forth from the Phanes ( ) it to the intellectual ineffable noetic divine world. but have been assigned to them on the basis of analogy. In his Commentary on the Parmenides. . the names that the Orphic tradition has given to entities above Phanes. Orpheus too holds that some levels of the divine are beyond naming (p. Proclus holds that only at the most extreme ends of reality knowledge becomes impossible and hence naming needs to be done on the basis of analogy. Furthermore. LXXI p. on this passage cf. calling it for example ‘receptacle’. 66. this Orphic god corresponds to the last member of the intelligible triad. / which the blessed gods on the high Olympus called Phanes the Àrst born (Frg. 19 Cf.18 He adds the interesting observation that. Steel.3 Metis bears the famous seed of the gods. 85 Kern = Proclus In Crat. lacks a proper name (‘matter’ not being its real name).17 Hence. I 324. 70–72. we would have given an exposition about their names too. ‘nurse’. 5–6). Proclus returns to these verses in order to prove that ‘Phanes’ is the Àrst divine name.” 20 See pp. We refer to it by the names of other things. at the other end of the scale.19 In the same way. ‘Ether’. According to Proclus. Steel 2004: 617– 618. Proclus In Tim. 1–9). CXIII esp. p. such as the ‘Time’. since above it “everything is silent and hidden” ( ). but the theologicans indicate these from afare by means of the analogy between the phainomena and these. he is the Àrst god who can and indeed is named by the gods. 6. 33. Proclus In Parm. revealing ( gods.

But how may we hear these names. especially this level of the divine that is associated with naming. if the gods do not speak physically? He addresses this problem in the notes immediately following the present one.learning from divine names 167 To answer Proclus’ initial question. Since knowledge is especially associated with Intellect. it is. then. which we shall treat below. So both the ancients who claimed that there exist names among the gods themselves and those who held that the gods transcended this form of designation were partly right. Triadic structure Expression ineffable Ontological Level One/ Henads (Orphic) Name ‘Chronos’* ‘Ether’* ‘Chaos’* v / ineffable effable intelligible gods intellectual member of intelligible Gods intelligible-andintellectual gods intellectual gods ‘Egg’* Phanes effable Uranus Cronus Zeus *Name by analogy Figure 1: The procession of the divine and the origin of divine names The gods are immaterial and hence we should rule out the possibility that they actually speak to each other or to us by modulating air with their speech organs. and others do not. who assumes that some of these divine names have actually been revealed to us through oracles. All this may be summarized in the following scheme. This presents a problem to Proclus. as appeared from the discussion of the Demiurge as the Àrst name-giver. the gods call each other names from the level at which knowledge of the individual entities is possible onwards. we have now seen that naming starts much earlier. Some gods do. For the moment it sufÀces to know that Proclus assumes that these names may reach . However.

34. These names are thus the product of divine inspiration ( ) and come about when we unite our thinking to the divine light. name of the iunges” (p. .e. see In Crat. 5).: a divine name revealed by the gods in the Chaldaean Oracles. 20 (and particularly pp. like “the mediating v v ). three of which are man-made:22 1. 6–9). Theol. 10–274. the power that emanates from the gods. 29–32. 6. As we shall see. 34. 25–27) in which Proclus refers to the same passage from the Cratylus about the human and divine names in order to illustrate that since the knowledge of the gods differs from that of the mortals. 12: In combination with the man-made names that are based on scientiÀc knowledge. by which the gods are invoked and by which they are celebrated ( v ). to the degree that they are clear. Proclus assumes that Homer and the other poets oppose these divinely inspired names to the names that mortals give them on the basis of ). this leaves us with the following four types of divine names. so do divine names from their human counterparts (In Tim. 124. Plat. produce human knowledge.3). see Proclus In Tim. Proclus distinguishes these from the names that have been given by the expert human namev ). 21 . Proclus gives some examples of such inspired names. For by means of these we can signify to each other something about them and talk among ourselves about them (In Crat. and which. 7–12 (the human name-givers v ). I 29 p. However. the divine names that have come to us. which appeared from the gods themselves and which revert back on them. 6. I 272. cf. LXXI pp. Divine names used by the gods themselves. 33. For the distinction of names based on divine inspiration and scientiÀc knowledge. Man-made divine names that are the product of divine inspiration. 273. the names from this celebrated (T. 14 f.21 givers based on their scientiÀc knowledge ( Proclus places great value on these divine names both for ritual and didactic purposes: T. 2–7.168 chapter six us through the intermediary of lower classes of divine beings. i. such as Phanes (T. sense-perception and opinion (p.4 .4 Orphic tradition will be at the center of Proclus’ attention in the last part of the commentary. 2. . are equally good examples of divine names by which the gods are v ). I 274. LXXI p. the divine names of the Orphic tradition. who coin names for the gods proceed 22 For the same division into three types of man-made divine names. 31. 6.

for a dicussion of this passage. for he assumes that this is the Àfth and Ànal of the axioms on which Timaeus’ subsequent account is based. expressing different types of knowledge. 7–274. . by explaining why the divine names in Homer are more correct than their human . Since the quality of a name depends of the quality of the knowledge expressed by it. thus Proclus. 28b3–5 Timaeus refers to the world as “the ) or world ( v )—let us call it by whatsoever name heaven ( may be most acceptable to it” (trans. on the other hand. Cornford). cf.learning from divine names 169 3. Man-made divine names that are the product of (human) scientiÀc knowledge. “the most acceptable the names one”. 23 In Tim. LXXI by doing what Socrates thought was impossible. a description of an ineffable name of the universe known only to and v . for example. i. whereas names based on sense-perception and opinion are inferior. 24 On Proclus’ assumption that Timaeus starts his account more geometrico by postulating Àve axioms.24 From this passage Proclus concludes that there are three names for the universe: and v and a third name. it is evident that divine names based on divine knowledge are superior by far. as Aristotle says (HA III 12 519a18–20). since its water causes animals to turn yellow ( river ) when they drink from it.e. Pinchard 2003: 240–242. they can be apprehended by our discursive way of thinking. 4. Man-made divine names that are the product of (human) senseperception and opinion. 186–187 for this axiom regarding the name. refer to qualities the gods. To Proclus this is an important passage. They therefore call the . is Proclus’ discussion of the names of the universe in his Commentary on the Timaeus. is based on the The human equivalent v ) of the river: its water ( ) goes through a appearance ( ). and hence superÀcially thinking people ( man-made basin ( ) have called it v . I 272. 32. see Steel 2003b and especially pp. Proclus equivalents. v . Proclus elaborates on this when he ends In Crat. In the case of the river explains that the gods know the causes of things. i.e. Another interesting example of divine and man-made names for one and the same thing.23 In Plato Ti. The names ) and known ( v ) to about the world that are clear ( us.

the part of it that is forever rooted in the realm of Being. 35. There are thus. Álvarez Hoz et al. The main problem is how it can make sense to assume the existence of divine speech. a giant statue of the intelligible world. characteristic) of its object (its being ordered). yet known to the gods. 26 Proclus In Tim. e. discursive names for what can be known discursively. that the gods are “without shape. but that they do not talk with others in the physical sense of the word. 28 The context about talking and listening requires this interpretation of . Proclus shows himself aware of this and addresses the issue in In Crat. the cosmos. likewise the divine names that reveal the whole essence of the things named are different from the human names that touch on those things only in a divided fashion. If what Plato says in Phaedrus 247c is right. 226–227 on Damascius Princip. 20). Proclus does not mean that these gods do not do dialectic—the god Cronus is after all the great dialectician—. i. 1999: “la actividad . color and impalpable”. since they are capable of the type of knowledge that these things require. 6–9. These symbols are unknown to us. I 274. contrary to the creatures here below they lack 27 in the material world. Likewise. For the existence of divine and man-made names for the same things. Romano 1989: 35: “l’attività dialettica”. at least to our rational faculties.28 25 Damascius takes up this point in order to elaborate on it when he complains that v only captures an (distinctive names never capture a complete thing. secret divine names for the divine elements in it.”26 3. II 198.25 Proclus resorts to his beloved comparison of names to theurgical statues to illustrate his point: these statues contain magical symbols. III pp.e. we have to assume that . LXXII p. Divine language: a paradox? ( In Crat. LXXII–LXXIX) Proclus’ theory that there exist names even at the level of the gods themselves may seem paradoxical. Proclus refers to the discussion of divine and human names in Homer in the Cratylus. 16–19. contains those hidden symbols that link it to the intelligible. and names based on opinion for what can be opined about it. not all aspects of it (cf. “Just as the types of knowledge among the gods differ from those among the divided souls. 10–199. 27 In Crat. Sorabji 2004 vol.g. some attached to the outside of the statue. others hidden inside it. LXXII–LXXIX.170 chapter six Its secret name refers to the transcendent element of the cosmos. in the case of one and the same thing. rather than ‘dialectical activity’ in the sense of philosophical dialectic (cf.

further Ammonius In Int. 5. Air receives as it were imprints from the divine thoughts.30 dialéctica”). The human souls. i.. e. They simply know each other’s thoughts. 63. CIX p.e. 19: v ). how gods and mortals communicate by means of language. What is more.” 29 Cf. For in the sense of spoken language. however.. Proclus’ hints at this in In Crat. cf.g. chapter seven § 2. and that language is a typical human feature that we need because of our inferior ontological position.e. LXXI p. In Crat. 7–9 where the of the Greeks. That we do is sufÀciently clear: the gods talk to us. LXXXV p. 17–80. LXXIII p. Proclus does not say. whereas we talk back to them. and be palpable. 79. Proclus the Chaldaeans and the Indians is compared to the In Crat.g. Cf. 24–26). modulations of physical air. 20. but they shape the air without touching it. where Proclus . It is in this way. 25ff. In In Crat. 35. a theme that communion ( Simplicius will develop further. e. Perhaps it is not them that speak but daemons that are equipped with a body? Proclus In Crat. the palate. and the Blank): “[the organs] of language ( v other organs which are said in this way to be ‘voiced’ or ‘linguistic’ ( ). They do not speak themselves. we can safely discard this solution. but that they generate sounds by shaping the air by means of their will. 12–14 where Proclus discusses the differences between Greek ). 4–5 (trans. He explains. holds both that the gods have names for each other. cf. 32. one supposedly needs a physical body.learning from divine names 171 For in order to talk and to hear what someone says. the gods do not even need to talk in order to communicate with each other. LI p. Proclus Àrst considers one possible answer to the question how the gods speak to us. 19–20 when he mentions the ) that human language produces. dialects ( ) are the tongue. see. 59.15) discussed above where “the rulers of the various regions rejoice in the dialects of their own places”. LXXVII p. LVII (= T. quite remarkably. 39. they do not need bodily organs at all. for example in the case of oracles (In Crat. LXXVII Proclus suggests that when the gods talk to us. as if air were some sort of wax. LXXVI rejects this solution.3. which results in sounds and modulation. 36. Since these names play a role in rites directed to the gods themselves. i.29 Proclus thus. have shape and color. because they have fallen away from the intelligible realm into the world of becoming. that the gods give us oracles. How we may reconcile these two conÁicting claims. In Crat. also Proclus In Crat. need language in order to communicate their thoughts. 30 It is interesting to compare this text to Proclus In Alc. 22. for example in prayers (In Crat. Proclus concludes. to make and receive sounds.

Proclus explains that the gods hear our prayers. 31. he has to explain how these may come about in the Àrst place.32 They know from within.172 chapter six On the other hand. see. his explanation is a different one. 277).. seems to have ears and eyes. 33 For examples of Proclus’ prayers to the gods that they may guide his philosophical studies. Since he assumes that one may only successfully philosophize when guided by the gods. 32 In Crat. “but not from without”. still concentrating on the case of the all-seeing and all-hearing Sun. 31 In Crat. 25: . This is what Homer means when he says that the Sun sees and hears everything (Il. e. was a serious matter to a philosopher-theologican such as Proclus.g.g. cf. but lacks a nose and a mouth. 3. Proclus stresses that this even holds true for visible gods with a body. LXXI p.33 discusses the fact that Socrates’ daemon speaks to him. Odysseus. 37. Van den Berg 2001: 208–223 (a discussion of Proclus’ Hymn to the Muses). which may seem irrelevant issue to us.. Since he assumes that a part of our theological knowledge consists in revealed divine names. and therefore know beforehand what will happen. especially in the context of a discussion of the Cratylus. There. an image of the Sun. LXXVIII p. However. not as a sound coming “from without”. since they carry in themselves the “roots and causes” of the universe. This whole issue of talking gods. Ànally. Proclus In Crat. is informed about the content of the discussion between Zeus and Helios through the intermediary of the archangel Hermes and the nymph Calypso (Od. e. in the case of the sense of hearing. for example on his senseorgans. he feels the need to explain how the gods may actually perceive our prayers for their assistance. but it is also works on other parts of Socrates. but from within. this will result in Socrates hearing a sound. 10: . for the faculties of smell and taste do not belong to these gods. 35. the gods do not need to actually hear the sounds that we utter in order to hear us. who have the capacity of seeing and hearing. . 374–90). LXXIII p. 12.—Proclus remarks in the passing that an indication for this is that the Moon. Proclus points out that knowledge about the divine is transmitted to us through intermediary beings. such as the Sun and the Moon. Since each part of Socrates receives these illuminations in its own manner. For the idea that the receivthis is not a sound from without ( ing medium determines the form in which we perceive of the illumination. which particularly targets his intelligence.—In Crat. 12–17. ). LXXIX.31 but because they know in advance what we are going to ask. Socrates receives a daemonic illumination.

I shall argue that Proclus. The interest for this particular section in modern scholarly literature on the Cratylus is after all only a recent development in response to its neglect by previous generations of scholars. against Plato. Cronus. I shall argue that Proclus’ interest in these etymologies was particularly motivated by his ambition to compose a Platonic theology. To Proclus. but in keeping with an existing pedagogical practice. the etymological section contained valuable elements for the construction of such a theology. By way of illustration I shall discuss Proclus’ interpretations of the etymologies of the names of Zeus and Uranus. I shall concentrate on what I believe to be the two central issues for Proclus in this part of the dialogue and discuss some of Proclus’ interpretation of Plato’s etymologies by way of illustration. the study of Proclus’ treatment of these names will bring to light the connection between the study of names and NeoplatonicOrphic soteriology. Finally.learning from divine names 4. we would. and Apollo. In Van den Berg 2003. Abatte 2001: 96–114 discusses the etymologies of the names of Zeus. Interesting as this adventure may be in its own right. Uranus. end up not seeing the wood for the trees and lose sight of our main concern here. Proclus’ commentary on the etymological section 173 A detailed discussion of how Proclus’ interprets each and every etymology of a divine name in the Cratylus would take us deep into the dark forests of Neoplatonic theology. CVII–CIX (on Cronus) offer very detailed discussions of the theological content of parts of the Commentary on the Cratylus. This will bring us back to the aim of the Cratylus that was discussed at the very beginning of the Commentary. This will be illustrated by a discussion of Proclus’ commentary on the names of the young gods Dionysus and Aphrodite. . I fear. assumes that the study of mythology by means of etymology from a philosophical perspective presents a good starting point for the education of philosophical novices such as Hermogenes. I study Proclus’ notes on the goddesses Rhea.34 Instead. The Àrst issue concerns the question why Proclus paid so much attention to these etymologies in the Àrst place. the latter for the role that these etymologies may play in Neoplatonic theological debates. Hera and Persephone in the Commentary. The former case will be instructive for the way in which Proclus looks for Neoplatonic theology in Plato’s dialogue. Demeter. 34 Brisson 2002a and Brisson 2004 on In Crat. the reconstruction of Proclus’ interpretation of the Cratylus as such. The second issue concerns the pedagogical value of etymologies.

D. see Saffrey 1992. and the Chaldaean Oracles. It is within the larger context of this project that we should situate Proclus’ interest in the etymologies of divine names in the Cratylus. In Theol. As part of this program. In the Àrst book of the Platonic Theology. for each of these produces a recollection to a greater or smaller degree of the divine names from which those who have exercised themselves in the study of the divine can easily grasp the individual characteristics of the gods by means of reasoning ( ) (Theol. to a discussion of the study of divine names. 20–21: v . Plat. Theol. This project would eventually culminate in his monumental Platonic Theology. As H. this chapter is informed by the Cratylus. I 29 p. Proclus remarks about our dialogue: T. Proclus set out to construct a rational theology on the basis of Plato’s writings and to demonstrate its correctness by showing that it is in harmony with the theologies of authoritative Àgures from a mythical past.35 They were all supposed to be divinely inspired. I 5.1 Proclus’ theological perspective on the Cratylus (In Crat. Proclus explicitly discusses the role of the Cratylus in this undertaking. Saffrey has shown. Orpheus. we shall hunt down many holy ideas in the Symposium. many in the Cratylus and also many in the Phaedo. XCVI) When we wish to fully understand Proclus’ approach to the Cratylus. the Athenian school had made it its project to harmonize various supposedly sacred texts. Pythagoras. actually telling the same things but in different manners. 18–23). Plat.36 Indeed. Theol. such as those by Homer. 6. it is Àrst of all important to take note of the theological perspective on philosophy that is so characteristic of the Athenian Neoplatonists. Plat. It was the task of the Neoplatonic philosopher to bring out this harmony. The theological function of etymology 5. p. I 29.5 About the individual characteristics of the gods. I 5. 25. everything that is said in that chapter is repeated in the Commentary on 35 36 On this project. v v Furthermore. with the philosophy of Plato. . Proclus dedicates the Ànal chapter of book one. 123. As Proclus himself remarks. Plat.174 chapter six 5. a chapter in which he surveys the contribution that the various dialogues make towards the composition of a Platonic theology.

15–16: v . 396a where Socrates moves from the names of the members of the house of Tantalus to those of Zeus and others gods. 5. when commenting on Crat. their powers and activities. XCVI p. supra-rational mystical faculty of our soul.38 Theology is after all a science and this presupposes a rational scientiÀc approach and by ).5). . Plato. The reason for this is that the essences of the gods can only be contemplated by a special. names thus analyzed reveal “the hidden essence ( vv ) of the gods”. We have already come across this chapter of the Platonic Theology when we discussed Proclus’ comparison of divine names to divine statues. 5. XCVI p. Some of Proclus contemporaries considered this grant theological project of the Athenian Neoplatonists to be basically Áawed.learning from divine names 175 the Cratylus.40 but are unknowable to our discursive soul and hence cannot be expressed in a human name. 6. deÀnition a rational account (a Only on one issue the discussion of the Cratylus in the Platonic Theology seems to differ slightly from the Commentary on the Cratylus.4. Proclus here thus clearly denies that divine names instruct us about the essences of the gods. its critics objected. See T. Proclus observes T.6 That Socrates.39 However. 47. Interestingly. Proclus says that we do so “by means of reasoning” (T. are like divine statues in that we can learn something about the divine from them.2 Neoplatonic theology and Orphic theogony It might be argued. 141–142. For he refrains from examining their essences ( ) since he considers these to be ineffable and unknowable except to the Áower of intellect (In Crat. it is clear that Proclus considered the Cratylus as an important supplier of pieces of theological wisdom. by analyzing them. 47. not by some kind of illumination as some have argued. See p. 141 n. According to Theol. Plat. deduces from the divine names. 37 38 39 40 See pp. 6.37 Divine names. which are like statues of the gods. we saw there. 24 above. “the Áower of intellect”. Be this as it may. however. at beginning of his exploration of the etymologies of divine names in the Cratylus. I 29. 12–16). In Crat. that the Cratylus played an even more fundamental role in the construction of a Platonic theology.

VI 1061. L. 44 Proclus Theol. But since there is a wide range in the intelligible world and there are many orders of gods. and that thus all things are presented in logical order. ‘Limitlessness’. which are suitable for application to them. 25. intellectual. 43 These names are called ‘signiÀcant’ because they teach us something about the v . Plato likewise gives in the Parmenides all the stages of procession from the One downwards. then. First. ‘Multiplicity’. 11. has no name. neither by names which reveal their existence ( ). As we have seen. and indeed it is only after the Àrst god that Plato and the other authorities start calling the subsequent classes of gods names. also is that the Àrst hypothesis is about the primal God. and portraying without omission all the divine stages of procession. 25–27. Plat.41 The latter had argued that this second hypothesis in fact constitutes a philosophical version of a theogony. 163–164. all having their proper rank.v.7 His view. trans. Just as the theogonies present a genealogy of the gods. by names familiar to philosophers. not by such names as are customarily celebrated by those who compose theogonies ( ). ‘Limit’.44 Proclus was especially interested in 41 42 In Parm. whom he considers as the source of the entire Greek theological tradition.176 chapter six had after all never written anything like a systematic theology. Proclus responded triumphantly to them that they had been proven wrong by the revolutionary interpretation of the second hypothesis of Plato’s Parmenides by his very own teacher Syrianus.-S.-J. I 5 pp. 26–26. including all classes of divine beings: T. See pp. the One. 6. Proclus has especially Orpheus in mind. cf. VI 1061. “he who became my guide in philosophy at Athens and who kindled in me an intellectual light”. and all have been expressed by philosophic names ( v ). 4: “the whole of Greek theology is an offspring of the mystagogy of Orpheus. gods. or supracosmic. and the second is about the intelligible ones.42 the supreme god. such as ‘Whole’. but rather as I said. such as are the signiÀcant names of the divine classes given out by the gods. For this translation. including Pythagoras and Plato. (In Parm. Proclus here opposes the v )43 names given to these gods by Plato to the signiÀcant names ( revealed by the gods themselves and those used by the “the composers of theogonies”. whether intelligible. Pythagoras learnt about the initiations . Morrow-Dillon 1987: 417 adapted). his view is that each of these divine orders has been named symbolically by Plato ( v v ). 35–1062. s. as being symbols of divine orders of being.

12–55. 400c for the etymology of v by v . Uranus. 402b5–c1) and quotes from the Orphic Rhapsodies. but only their characteristics as they appear from their names ( v ) (In Crat. cf. for T. see Brisson 2002b. p. and esp. and lowest realms of the gods.7. 415–419 for this text.” On this relation between Orpheus and Plato and the shadowy Àgure of Aglaophamos. Proclus In Tim. 9–20. 396c4: to Orpheus (Crat. e. v concerning the gods from Aglaophamos. 47 Cf. 46 For a (negative) evaluation of this interpretation. XCIX pp.8 That in the Cratylus the great Plato does not have as his aim to celebrate the Àrst. Baxter 1992: 101–102. 48 See chapter Àve § 2. see esp. As we have seen. As Socrates himself indicates.learning from divine names 177 the part of Orpheus’ theogony that describes the succession of six divine kings. CV pp. 382f. and Dionysus. 13–51. Plato received the perfect knowledge concerning them from the Pythagorean and Orphic writings. 90.45 Whatever one may think of Proclus’ interpretation of the Parmenides. 6. Proclus stresses this relation between the Cratylus and the Parmenides. 48. In this respect the Cratylus is most useful for it contains a philosophical interpretation of an Orphic theogony. C.46 his attempts to show that the Parmenides contained a philosophical theogony must have made the Cratylus especially valuable to him. He somehow needs to show that the names used by the philosophers and those by the theologians are in fact different names for the same entities. he turns as it were an Orphic theogony into Platonic philosophy. . Proclus In Crat. He connects Hesiod explicitly (Crat.48 However. also Crat. secondly. 6. 13 and In Crat.47 When Socrates etymologizes these names. Steel 2000. III 168. presents us with a complete description of the divine world.. since he believes that one cannot understand the etymologies without this background. being the Ànal dialogue of the curriculum. Night. the instruction offered in the Cratylus is limited to what we can learn from the divine names: T. Zeus. whereas the Parmenides. middle. the series of divine names that he discusses is that of Hesiod’s Theogony ). Cronus. These will appear to play an important role in Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus in which he treats the entire Orphic theogony from Phanes down to Dionysus. At several places. pp. Cf. 22. 24–27). CLXVI p. 45 See.g. to wit Phanes. cf. Proclus had already explicitly compared the Cratylus to the Parmenides in the prolegomena: both the Cratylus and the Parmenides combine a discussion of philosophical method with an instruction about reality. 54.

Plat.9 .10 After Orpheus has named Mind (Nous) ‘Cronus’ because he thrust (krouonta) (the elements) against one another. . Kahn 1997: 61f. he states that he “did a great deed” to Sky (Uranus): for he states that (Sky) had his kingship taken away. and (named) the other (elements) in accord with the same principle. IV 5. 2 for this quotation. 6. Plato himself in the Cratylus. . need to reinterpreted allegorically in order to reconcile them with the latest science of his day”.49 Among other things. declares that the Àrst is the Father of the Universe.50 He did so by means of the favorite exegetical tools of his day. (Orpheus) states that (Sky) had his kingship taken away (when) the things that exist were thrust together). The Cratylus does in fact reÁect contemporary attempts to interpret Orphic material in a philosophical manner. IV 5. our oldest surviving Greek manuscript. Uranus is “the sight which sees what is above”( ‘ ’ . (Orpheus) named him ‘Cronus’ after this action. .) (Proclus Theol. that of the age of Greek enlightenment. 15–23). XIV. Proclus presents the Cratylus explicitly as Plato’s adaptation of Orpheus’ theogony: T. 50 Janko 2001: 1–32. on this etymology and its relation to the Cratylus. etymology and allegory. yet the exact nature of their relation is a matter of debate. which may seem shocking or bizarre if taken literally. For. see p. . and the third the thinking of the Àrst thoughts. chasing the truth about them by means of their names. .51 49 The resemblance of the Derveni-papyrus to the Cratylus has long been noted. 6. the second the container of the divine Intellect. 51 Col. In fact. p. on which see Baxter 1992: 130–139. Janko 2001: 25. this mutilated text offers an allegorical interpretation of a cosmogonic poem ascribed to Orpheus. Proclus’ attempts to relate an ancient theogony to Plato’s philosophy by means of etymology is less eccentric than one might be at Àrst inclined to think.178 chapter six Elsewhere. all this is not unlike Proclus’ attempts nearly a thousand years later to harmonize Orpheus with the state of the art Neoplatonism of his own day. 21. Janko. following the Orphic theogonies ( v ). he says. T. and the father of Cronus ‘Uranus’. The method of the Derveni-papyrus may be illustrated by the explanation of the name ‘Cronus’. According to R. calls the father of Zeus ‘Cronus’. And he.‘ ’ . in Theol. trans. the aim of its author was “to argue that conventional religious belief and practice. cf. The best example of this tendency is the famous Derveni-papyrus. Plat. .

it was to be taken up by the Stoics. 54 See.learning from divine names 179 The author apparently tried to reinterpret the traditional mythological theogony into a physical cosmogony. was in fact the author of the Derveni-papyrus. for as the Timaeus testiÀes. i. in his case Platonic. e. 52 .g.. 6. On the basis of an etymology he associates Cronus with the rational power Intellect that organizes the universe. v v 55 See. as some modern scholars assume.54 It is not at all unlikely that. Socrates denies that his name presents him as a (rebellious) child (koros) of Uranus. so evident in fact that Ch. 378b8–c1 ( ).g. as we have seen in chapter two. 53 On the etymologies of Zeus.52 Like the author of the Dervenipapyrus. see Sedley 2003: 90–96. like in the case of Cronus (Crat. T. Proclus knows these passages well: the “battles and plotting among the gods” (cf. 229c–230a. R. recall R. Kahn has raised the question whether the source of Socrates’ etymological inspiration in the Cratylus. e. the idea that the cosmos is the product of a rational cause was fundamental to Plato.53 This philosophical approach to traditional mythology had a great future ahead of it. e. Baxter 1992: 139 who considers the tradition of the Derveni papyrus as “a prime candidate as a target of the Cratylus”..14). philosophy. Kahn 1997 argues that Euthyphro was probably a member of some sort of Orphic sect. Socrates in the Cratylus tries to turn offensive mythology into respectable. All the same this did not cause him to discard the etymologies from the Cratylus as sources of philosophical information. This is not to say that Plato himself approved of what people like the author of the Derveni-papyrus were doing.g. at least in part. the bigot Euthyphro. The parallels with the Cratylus are evident.55 Below. When discussing the mythical theogony by Hesiod. His name in fact indicates that Cronus is the pure cosmic Intellect. Plato Phdr.e. 396b–c). we shall see that he was himself clearly aware of Plato’s criticism of allegory. He explicitly rejects etymologies that are based on a literal reading of myths and that make the gods look bad and obnoxious. meant as an attack on people like the author of the Derveni-papyrus. the etymologies in Cratylus are. 378b8–e4. Ouranus and Cronus in the Cratylus and their relation to Plato’s rational universe. when we come to the pedagogical function of the etymologies according to Proclus.. for. This can hardly be mere coincidence. In fact he elsewhere makes it abundantly clear that he does not think much of these attempts to turn awkward mythological stories into proper philosophy by means of etymology and allegory.

CX. 60. 396a–b). which “has been investigated in greater detail in other works” (p.” etc. Proclus In Crat. How does Proclus turn this etymology into a piece of Neoplatonic philosophy? The obvious answer is that he reads his Neoplatonism into Socrates’ words. the and then looks how its same principle now also applies to the explication of divine names.g. 7–8). XCVII–XCIX). In Plato’s Timaeus the Demiurge calls himself the “Father of gods and works” (Ti. the declensions of the name. Proclus offers a brief discussion of the Neoplatonic interpretation of the god Uranus. 9). he turns to the descriptions of Zeus that are offered by Greek theologians in order to establish both the exact place of Zeus in the metaphysical hierarchy and his functions (In Crat. In T. In some cases he simply brieÁy presents the relevant information about a certain god.3 chapter six The name of Zeus explained (In Crat. XCIX. 5–6). the philosophical etymologist departs from the expresses it. As we have seen. which describes Zeus as “ ”. In In Crat. one of which has . in which Zeus is presented as the king and father 56 See pp. . 41a. XCVIII p.56 Not very surprisingly. He thus is the ruler and king of all (Crat. he offers more of a justiÀcation for his breathtaking interpretative moves. 128–130. . Proclus demands that.5 we have already seen that according to Proclus those “who have exercised themselves in the study of the divine can easily grasp the individual characteristics of the gods”. Proclus indeed Àrst gives an exposition of the relevant knowledge about the god whose name is to be discussed before he turns to the actual explanation of his name. cf. In fact this is his declared strategy. Socrates’ explanation of the name of in the accusative. . In the Commentary on the Cratylus. “through whom all phrase ( creatures live”. 60.180 5. p. The Demiurge thus recalls the god Zeus from the Orphic and Homeric poems. though. C–CII) We shall now take a closer look at Proclus’ treatment of some etymologies from Hesiod’s theogony. and then sets out to explain the name on the basis of this discussion (“he is named thus because of . in the case of the explanation of personal of a name names. 6. e. In the case of his explanation of the name of Zeus.. 48. Socrates argues that these two names constitute as it were a other ). to start with the etymology of the name of hinges on the two Zeus. Instead of summarizing an earlier discussion.

59 Whereas philosophical ). contra Algra 2004: 174–175. Brittain 2005. e. The Stoics in particular held that we have natural notions of the divine. while others deny this. Yet. I 6 p. From this Proclus concludes that “therefore we v ) that the Demiurge in the Timaeus reasonably claim ( is the great Zeus. to this notion ( ) about the supreme Zeus. 10. 893b). holding as if “to a safe rope” (Lg. that will guide his discussion of the passage from the Cratylus. Some scholars believe that these notions might function as the starting point for deductive proof. XCIX p.58 Proclus here Àrst outlines the notion about Zeus for much the same reason: it is the “the safe rope”.1.learning from divine names 181 of the other gods. which they used to test certain given opinions and conceptions.. 59 Theol. 6. argument targets the intellectual part of our soul ( ) mythology appeals to the divine part of our soul ( that has some kind of sympathetic relation to the divine: T. all agree that the Stoics regarded such notions as a criterion of truth.11 Now then. argues that the Stoics used these notions as starting points for deductive proof. XCIX p. let us investigate how Socrates reveals the mystical truth about this god from his names. 8–13). he assumes that we derive these notions from studying mythology. Instead. 25–29. 28. ‘Notions’ play an important role in ancient theology from the Hellenistic age onwards. 6. In the Platonic Theology Proclus explains how this works. but myths cause us to experience something In Crat. 51. As we have seen in chapter three § 4. from whose description of Stoic theological notions I borrow here. However. 58 57 . Their precise role in Stoic theology is debated. These empirical origins guarantee their correctness.”57 Proclus assumes that we need this discussion as necessary preliminary information in order to fully appreciates Socrates’ discussion of the name of Zeus in the Cratylus. that he is the Demiurge and the Father of this universe and that he is the unparticipated and completely perfect Intellect and that he Àlls all with life and the other good things (In Crat. He ends his discussion about the identiÀcation of Zeus with the Demiurge thus: T. 50. the criterion. 18–19. Proclus is not a Stoic. Plat. he is Àrmly convinced that sense-perception can never produce reliable notions.g. formed in our minds on the basis of repeated experience of the world around us.12 For other forms of discourse make us appear like people who are forced to accept the truth.

Algra 2003: 157. to read it side by side with Proclus Theol. we shall Ànd that Proclus assumes that Socrates in the Cratylus helps Hermogenes to purify his mind in such a way that he arrives at the proper notions about the gods. It helps considerably.” 62 See chapter four § 7. 61 60 . According to the Stoa. 15–84.2.e. Proclus in Theol. the latter. I 6 p. on which cf. 29. 7–10). V 22. see the note by Saffrey-Westerink ad loc. i. i. the empirical origins of these theological notions guarantee their correctness. Cf. cf.182 chapter six ineffable and to project correct notions ( )60 while we worship the mystical element contained in these (Theol. Below. Plat. Van den Berg 2001: 94. Let us return to Proclus’ discussion of the name of Zeus. For the impact of mythology on the soul that has the right disposition towards it. As we have just seen. Proclus In RP. they also assume that we shall all arrive at the same notions. I § 525: “Why do we enjoy myths?—Because we have innate notions (logoi ) which are images of reality. provided that we keep clear of wrong reasoning and external ideological inÁuences. What is more. Proclus in the Commentary on the Cratylus begins his discussion of the name of Zeus by showing that Zeus is the Demiurge from the Timaeus. Plat. 83. C–CI is in its present form difÀcult to follow. Damascius In Phd.63 With Proclus this is different: only those who have prepared themselves properly. the question “how he should be named in accordance with the Hellenic theology”. those who have turned away their attention from the material realm towards the intelligible divine. I p. persuaded him of it. though.61 The distinction that Proclus here draws between arguments that force us to accept something and mythology that moves us in a special way is the same as that between the compelling argument against Hermogenes and the persuasive one: the former forced Hermogenes to accept the natural correctness of names. The discussion as it has been preserved in In Crat. 63 Cf. 2. Plat. will be able to arrive at these correct notions about the gods. since the Stoa assumes that human minds are all structured alike and all work alike. V 20 likewise examines the identity of the Demiurge. by means of an appeal to Homeric mythology.62 Proclus does not only differ from the Stoics in that he assumes that we derive our theological notions from mythology instead of sense-perception. a good illustration in point of Proclus’ desire to translate For the meaning of .e.

This is apparent from the double accusative of / refers to the fact the name of Zeus. According to Proclus. 20–26: the Demiurge is named Zeus v ). V 22 p.e. whereas. fact that the Demiurge is also the source of life. Plat. Both the Commentary on the Cratylus and the Platonic Theology make this point. 8. V 20 p. Theol. 3–11 with useful notes by SaffreyWesterink. For Proclus. and once found it is impossible to declare him to all mankind.. interpreted by Proclus as another indication of the double nature of Zeus. Among other things. On the one hand. 23–82. Both in Theol. 69 In Crat. They should be read in connection with the rest Theol. 82. 6.66 In Crat. 65 Cf. Plat. as Saffrey and “in the Greek tradition” ( v Westerink explain. according to which the Dyad sits besides Zeus.69 The exegesis of the name of Zeus in Theol. V and the Commentary on the Cratylus thus illustrate that Proclus assumes that the etymologies from the Cratylus are not without philosophical interest. 68 Theol. C likewise compares these two passages. the Orphic tradition. 81. V 22 then continues by comparing the Cratylus to “the other theologicans”. 67 In Crat. Plat. 72. whereas according to Crat. of course. 83.learning from divine names 183 terms from Plato’s philosophy into theological names. on the other hand he is the source of life.11: the adjective ‘supreme’ indicates that this is most senior of all manifestations of Zeus that Proclus believes to exist. i. 28c4–5 it is quite a task to Ànd him. 51. 66 Theol. i. 10. 64 . Plat.68 The name ‘Dyad’ is. the double name of Zeus reveals that he unites two functions into one. Plat. he is the Ànal cause of the universe. / refers to the that the Demiurge is the Ànal cause. V 22 p. 5. including the discussion from the Cratylus. Plat. V 20 p. he points to the fact that both the Timaeus and the Cratylus say that it is difÀcult to obtain knowledge of the Demiurge.67 Theol. According to Ti. 12–13: v . The same oracle is quoted in the Commentary on the Cratylus. V 22 p. 52. CI p. Proclus next proceeds by comparing the evidence from the Cratylus to other theological traditions and especially to the Chaldaean Oracles. T. 4–8.64 From this ) that the examination he concludes that it is crystal clear ( Demiurge from the Timaeus is the supreme Zeus. CI p. Plat. yet in a condensed form. Chaldaean Oracles Frg. 396a it is not easy to understand why Zeus’ name is such a Àne one.65 In corroboration of this point he adduces other Platonic passages. Cf.e. 27–28. 75. Plat. Theol. V 22 and in the Commentary on the Cratylus.

see further Steel 2002. v . As C. CX p. CX p. Homer. Uranus’ name is correctly given: “for the sight of what is above is well called by the name )—and (‘heavenly’)—looking at the things above ( astronomers say. 60. in Greek. above Zeus and Cronus. T. CX–CXIII) According to Socrates in the Cratylus. in this case with the Timaeus. that that results in purity of intellect” (Crat.73 explains that he is called after the visible heaven. and the Chaldaean Oracles.5 where the same image of hunting reappears. Proclus In Crat. 19–20. “hunting down the truth concerning things on the basis of their names”. 59. 72 On Uranus as the cause. 22–25. He locates Uranus high in his metaphysical system. on the level of the intelligible-and-intellectual gods. cf. 6.4 Proclus and Theodorus on names: The name of Uranus (In Crat. 396b–c). He is the universal ‘container’ ( this means that Uranus is the ultimate cause of all cohesion. Hermogenes. attention to a last detail concerning the CIII). 5. CX p. 9–12: v v 71 70 v .71 ). they are a great help in connecting Plato’s philosophy to the theological systems of Orpheus. Proclus explains that he does so because Zeus himself is an (cause).184 chapter six of Plato’s philosophy. Steel has explained.74 Proclus goes on to connect this interpretation of Uranus as the containing god to the topography of the heaven as Cf. the intelligible heaven ( ) that even thinks itself. right below ) as an Phanes70 He describes Uranus. Socrates builds his explanation of the name of Zeus on the two accusative forms of his names. Figure 1. 74 Proclus In Crat. Both the material and the divine heaven bind and hold together all things contained in them and they produce one single sympathy and coherence in the entire cosmos. whose discussion is particularly helpful for understanding this passage from the Commentary on the Cratylus. 60.72 Proclus. As we have seen. while being united to the Àrst “intellect ( ) all intelligibles and Àrmly rooted in these and containing ( the intellectual orders because it remains in this intelligible unity”. Proclus begins his commentary by describing the nature of this god. Moreover. Proclus completes his discussion of the name of Zeus by paying of the name (In Crat. 73 In Crat. v v v .

Syrianus was the Àrst to connect the Phaedrus-myth to the succession of kings from the Orphic Rhapsodies. but from what he says elsewhere it appears that his approach involved the sounds and shapes of letters. that of Theodorus of Asine. As H. Proclus defends the interpretation by Syrianus. 97 ed. This interpretation is brieÁy summarized in In Crat. Uranus cannot follow immediately after the One. while assuming that this supracelestial dome/heaven (Uranus) came directly after the One itself. the supracelestial place 2. the god from the Orphic tradition is identiÀed with (2. like. Theodorus had argued for his interpretation in a work v ). Proclus Theol. 17–27.g. Plat. Steel 2004: 620 for a discussion of Theodorus’ theory. Plat. cf. Hermias In Phdr. Uranus. Pythagoras. Since the interpretation of Syrianus and Proclus was an innovation. II 274. subcelestial dome. 15–150.learning from divine names 185 ) discussed in the famous myth from the Phaedrus (p. 68–509. He did so in his course on the Phaedrus that has been recorded by Hermias.75 An essential element in this interpretation is the division of the heavenly place from the Phaedrus into three zones: 1. Plat. 148. which the latter had put forward in his Harmony against this Theodorus of Asine. In Theol. . IV) xxix–xxxvii. D. Saffrey has shown.) the celestial revolution. Steel (cf. the celestial revolution 3.. thus leaving no room for any class of gods in between the One and the (intelligible) heaven. Proclus does not give us Theodorus’ entitled On Names ( argument here.76 Proclus Àghts him with his own weapons by deriving an argument for his thesis that 75 Saffrey-Westerink 1981 (= Theol. cf. 15 and 154. IV 23 p. it was bound to conÁict with earlier Neoplatonic interpretations of the myth. 12–15. Syrianus and Proclus rejected this interpretation. Hence. IV 23. as well as in a now lost work entitled The Harmony of Orpheus. Deuse 1973: 32–37). CXII. 60. The latter did not distinguish the supracelestial dome of the myth from the heaven itself. Proclus In Tim. cf. for Syrianus’ Harmony. They pointed out that according to the Orphic tradition the reigns of Phanes and Night come before that of Uranus. 69. VII pp. and Plato with the Oracles in ten books. cf. 508. e. 14: about the heavenly place where the gods dwell and contemplate the Forms. Saffrey 1992: 43. 18–23 and In Parm. 76 For Theodorus’ argument.

It is precisely this unity of Being from which Uranus derives his characteristic cohesive power. an indication that this method of doing philosophy was by no means conÀned to Proclus. with the exception of Phanes. 63. 18. ) abstains from discussing these names. neither is it below something—therefore he can neither accept the explanation of that name nor the ‘supracelestial place’. see Steel 2002. Cf. but he himself believes that the course of the Cratylus justiÀes his assumption. 79 Cf. On the unity of Being as the source of the cohesive power of Uranus. can no longer accept that heaven is “the sight looking upwards”. it is impossible to name the intelligible gods located on the level of Being.”77 We may have our doubts whether Proclus is right to claim that for Plato Uranus is “the sight looking upwards”. IV 23 p.13 For Theodorus. of the intelligible gods is called ‘god-nourishing’ since it is the object of contemplation for gods such as Uranus. CX p. for the same idea Chaldaean Oracles Frag. 16–22). 24–26: this silence of the Fathers. 65.79 According to Proclus. i. or discursive thinking. the supracelestial place that is surrounded by “the god-nourishing silence of the Fathers” (= Chaldaean Oracles Frag. as it is celebrated by an inspired Socrates in the Phaedrus (Theol. As we have seen.e. nor is it a sight. The human soul cannot remember what it cannot know anyhow. i. as Socrates in the Cratylus has it ( . i. since Being is an uniÀed whole. In Crat. 25. then. We have here. Socrates therefore reasonably (p. 16). since he says that the heaven (Uranus) is the Àrst.78 The realm of Being is the supracelestial place. says that he fails to remember the rest of Hesiod’s genealogy (Crat. a Àne example of two eminent Neoplatonists who philosophize on the basis of names. 396c). Plat.e. And since these gods can not been known. 69. Lest no one thinks 29f. I p. containing power from this contemplation. Proclus assumes that. 6. Proclus’ argument with Theodorus explains why in the Commentary on the Cratylus ) that Uranus he insists so strongly on the fact that it evident ( is characterized by the fact that he looks to the things above. 17–19.: 77 In Crat. 17 = Proclus In Tim. the level of reality directly superior to Uranus. they cannot be named. this is the reason why Socrates. 63. . who derives his cohesive. opinion. CX p. be it as an object of fantasy.e. 78 See § 2 above. after his discussion of the name of Uranus. )—after all the Àrst does not look.186 chapter six there are gods in between the heaven and the One from the discussion of the name ‘Uranus’ in the Cratylus: T.

Proclus assures us.80 Proclus In Crat. Plato in the Phaedrus compares the contemplation of ). but that to the wise these hold some wonderful deeper meaning. In Theol. he raises the issue in connection to his allegorical interpretation of the mutilation of Cronus by Zeus: T. yet Plato himself had spoken out against allegory. Plato himself does not undertake Àction in this fashion. 132). 17. which were associated with these to initiation into mysteries (v secrecy and silence. V 3 p. In the same vein.14 No one should interrupt me when he hears these words with the following objection: “does Plato not discard the mutilations. for instance. initiate” (Frag. “had it been possible to name these and grasp them by means of knowledge. The pedagogical function of etymology: names as playthings 6. this is Proclus’ standard line of defense of ancient mythology. V 3. Whether or not convincing as an interpretation of Plato.1 Proclus on myths as a means of education Proclus’ interpretation of Socrates’ explanations of the names of Zeus and Uranus aptly illustrates the way in which Proclus uses these etymologies as sources of theological knowledge. and hunt down their secret intention (Proclus Theol. 19–20. For that reason. 6.learning from divine names 187 that Socrates is lazy. CXV characteristically concludes this discussion by showing that Plato’s reluctance to discuss the names of the gods on the level of Being is in harmony with that of the theological authorities. Plat. Plat. but keeps silent about where Uranus came from. . the bonds and the tragic performances of myths?” Plato indeed believes that all these things confuse the ignorant masses because of their ignorance about the secrets contained in these. Another reference to the persuasive powers of mythology. CXIII p. then we would have discussed their names too”. Hesiod in his theogony mentions Chaos as the father of Uranus. 114 above. Plato objects to exposing 80 81 In Crat. 6. the Chaldaean Oracles indicate that these gods are ineffable when they warn their public to “keep silent. cf. 66. Proclus is very much aware that his approach to divine names is problematic from a Platonic point of view: his method is based on an allegorical interpretation of Greek mythology. yet he thinks that one should be persuaded ( )81 by the ancients. who are children of the gods. Likewise. 22–5). p.

who takes the stories about the gods that Plato found so repulsive literally. Proclus trusts that myths may produce “correct notions” about the divine in the careful reader. blasphemous elements. Proclus. 6. In between these stands the discourse ) of the name-giver proceeds scientiÀcally that from the opinion ( v ) to the nature of the gods. His discussion of Socrates’ explanations of the names of Dionysus and Aphrodite shows that this was not a mere slip of the pen. Yet. Euthyphro’s type of account is v ) accounts about the gods. Given that this is Proclus’ standard view on mythology. myths. apparently because it starts from his type mythology. This Euthyphro is better known from the dialogue named after him. Proclus refers to the Euthyphro when he distinguishes between three types of discourse about the gods.188 chapter six the ignorant masses to mythology for it will confuse them. As we shall see below.82 As we have seen (T. Plat. like opposed to the scientiÀc ( those put forward by Socrates. it will be argued below. CXVI discusses Socrates’ claim that his unexpected gift for etymology is due to a temporary state of inspiration for which he blames Euthyphro (Crat. I 4 p. CXVI.12). Theol. it has ( also something in common with the Euthyphro’s fantasies. First. 13–27: Plato rejects traditional mythology as an improper means of education. On Proclus’ defense of allegorical interpretation. 21. is comes as a surprise to Ànd that in the Commentary on the Cratylus. discovers in the Cratylus an in his time well-tried method of preparatory philosophical education that takes mythology as its starting point. since they are the products of divine inspiration. 6. seemingly. have a lot to offer to those who are able to see through their scandalous surface. while composing himself some sort of puriÀed mythology. there are those v ) about who like Euthypro fantasize irrationally ( all sorts of outrageous divine conduct. 82 Cf.2 Euthyphro’s inspiration (In Crat. 396d). At the same time. he states this explicitly in In Crat. To avoid such confusion. Proclus assumes that Socrates in the Cratylus does use traditional mythology in order to educate the young. in which he is presented as a self-proclaimed religious expert. Plato himself had written a kind of puriÀed myths that do not contain such. see further Sheppard 1980: 145–161 (“Allegory. . Symbols and Mysteries”). CXVI) Proclus In Crat.

187–200). He descends from his scientiÀc activity in order to help those in the grasp of irrational fantasies to the intermediate level of understanding about the divine. because of these myths. 406b–d). cf. see p. Plato is perhaps hinting here at the etymological games played at symposia. tells Hermogenes that there are two types of explanation available of these names. CLXXXI starts by paraphrasing Socrates’ explanation of the names of Dionysus and Aphrodite. even though he normally considers mythology to be unsuited for the ignorant masses. This from foam ( refers. ironical as ever. strengthening the weakness of the mortal nature (probably by means of procreation. thus using the discussion of these myths as an incentive to wake people like Hermogenes up to the search for the truth.84 In the case of Aphrodite. 6.83 Dionysus’ name is explained from the ). Hesiod Th.3 The names of Dionysus and Aphrodite (In Crat. Proclus In Crat. even the gods love play. Socrates. thinks it Àt to pay attention to Euthyphro’s myths. Socrates sees that many v people.learning from divine names 189 Proclus now explains why Socrates. Socrates simply agrees with after the fact that she was born Hesiod that she is called . one of Aphrodite’s Plato Crat. 47. The serious explanations he serious one and a playful ( leaves to others. a ) one. 406c2–3: v . of course. He himself will go through the playful ones. CLXXXI– CLXXXIII) Proclus points to Socrates’ discussion of the names of Dionysus and Aphrodite as an example of his attempts to improve Hermogenes’ Áawed perception of the divine. He claims that Socrates wants to bring out that Dionysus and Aphrodite in their lowest manifestations are the cause of pleasure. hold brutish notions ( ) about the gods. Wine ( ) is fact that he is “the giver of wine” ( named after its effect on the human soul: it makes one think that he > > ). to the birth of Aphrodite from the foam that was generated when Cronus cast the genitals of the castrated Uranus into the sea (Plato Crat. 83 84 . whereas in fact understands ( one does not. After all. Having been asked to explain the names of Dionysus and Aphrodite.

e. In that case. Orphic poetry. who. 8: v continues to explain. For. but. 207a5ff. ).88 As appears from the etymology from the Cratylus.190 chapter six functions. Dionysus is the last Orphic King. called wine (appellamus vinum autem Liberum).” (trans.g. This is. for. did not try to connect these names to metaphysical entities. as Proclus intellect (p. Socrates “puriÀes our v ) concepts about the gods” ( ) that everything always and “prepares us to think ( looks towards the best end”. At the same time Proclus tacitly criticizes the Stoics who had also noticed that gods are often named after their gifts. 1] says: ‘What they saw in the children. i. 109.)85 and helping us to bear the hardships due to an incarnated mode of existence. we must try to explain why the divine names are appropriate in these cases too.g. and once we realize that there actually exist these higher manifestations. as Proclus [Hymns. and the leader 85 On this function of Aphrodite.87 Yet these names are also appropriate in the case of higher manifestations of these gods. see. 88 See. the early name-givers expressed an important notion about the gods. 28: to a mental state due to wine. Cf. frg. 108. the name v ) refers as it is commonly understood (p.g. Proclus now explains that on a higher that Dionysus produces is the individual intellect that level the means the individual resembles the universal intellect.. I § 6 where Olympiodorus. 4–6. CLXXXII does so for the name of Dionysus. CLXXXIII p. 13–26. 108. referring to a hymn by Proclus. and Proclus Hymn II 11–12. 108. for instance. Proclus’ interpretation of the more serious type of explanation that Socrates had left to others. CLXXXI p. Proclus begins by observing that the theologians often call the gods by their most mundane gifts. . their providential care for humanity. Algra 2003: 158 points out that the Stoics presumably believed that in giving divine names to what is useful. The god Liber is. refers to Dionysus as ‘Wine’.e. Olympiodorus In Phd. I assume. . literal sense of the ancient myths and the corresponding explanations of the names of the gods involved. . Proclus comments..86 This puriÀcation of concepts prompts us to look beyond the obvious. e. as is the case for Dionysus. they expressed in the parents’ names’. just as we call Demeter wheat and Dionysus wine. because of their materialistic philosophy. 86 In Crat. Cicero DNR II 24 for the observation that many gods were called after their gifts “by the wisest men of Greece and our forefathers” (a Graeciae sapientissimis et a maioribus nostris). 87 Proclus In Crat. Westerink). Plato Smp. explains that we often call gods after their gifts: “.. In this way. e. Proclus In Crat.

109.93 To go short. but life in its most pure and united form. 110. Cronus represents Intellect. 22–24: Why Proclus calls these notions ‘playful’ will be discussed below.4 above. In the case of Proclus’ explanation of the name of Aphrodite we Ànd a comparable move. 2–4: . it is clear that we should look beyond the surface for a more profound interpretation. the indivisible communion of Forms which derives its cohesion from ) from which they are said to have been Uranus. As we have seen. who is so simpleminded that he does not look at the Àrst and eternal causes ( ) instead of the lowest and perishable ones ( )? This is exactly. 91 Aphrodite is thus interpreted as a cohesive force emanating from Uranus: she binds all things together by a universally shared desire for Beauty. He starts his discussion of her name (In Crat. CLXXXIII) by claiming that it is possible for those who approach things . the reason why Plato mentions Hesiod. CLXXXIII p.90 Proclus’ explanation of Aphrodite is very profound indeed. 109. his father. Cf.92 The foam ( born. The fact that the foam drifts on the sea shows that it is superior to the boundless sea. CLXXXIII p. CLXXXIII p. 90 In Crat. Uranus is ‘the connector’. wonders Proclus. thus Proclus. 111. If a divinely inspired sage says such seemingly scandalous things. 89 In Crat. In Crat. CLXXXIII p. He is the demiurge who comes after the universal Demiurge Zeus.89 The approach of the many to this name is determined by their material mindset ( ): they assume that the foam is sperm. But. the source of all cohesion. Aphrodite’s unintentional father. 91 92 93 See § 2. then.learning from divine names 191 of the young gods.e. and who is responsible for the creation of this material universe which is populated by individuals. 15–20. but that the notion that guided the name-givers was that the gods are productive powers. in a philosophical manner) to be in an intellectual way ( inspired even by “playful notions about the gods”. i. Hermogenes has now learnt not to believe Euthyphro that the gods are literally Àghting and mutilating each other. and that the name of Aphrodite refers to the pleasure that is caused by the ejaculation of that sperm. whereas the sea on which it Áoats represents life in its unfolded limitless form. In Crat. v v v . 5–16. Cf. does not represent sperm. .

CLXXXI p. Hermogenes. 158). 18–24. on the role of etymology in this work. partly with the help of etymology. 60–62.98 Proclus. 96 On the Epidrome as a schoolbook. 1 to p.192 6. The Stoic Cornutus’ Epidrome is probably the best known example of the schoolbooks that were used to teach such introductory courses. see pp. Play and salvation through names When Socrates calls his explanations of the names of Aphrodite and Dionysus ‘playful’. (p. which “establishes a continuity between the student’s preceding grammatical studies and the philosophy to which he is now exposed”. G. See chapter two § 2. 982b12–19. Since he does not take things as seriously as he should. Most characterizes the work as a “Àrst textbook in philosophy”. Proclus hints at the demiurgical role of Dionysus in In Crat.96 Heraclitus the Paradoxographer’s On Unbelievable Tales. 98 Cf. It offers Stoicizing interpretations of traditional Greek mythology on the basis of etymologies. constitutes another example of this genre. Aristotle presents mythological narration as a precursor of philosophical speculation. Theol. Plat. 158 additional n. associates ‘play’ both with the last Orphic king. 97 On this text. while he is playing and being serious at the same time” with the remarks by Saffrey-Westerink ad loc. 3–4: “And these things Plato shows in the Cratylus.97 7. see pp. 16. however. see Stern 2003: 51–97. he probably just meant that. 71–72. 107.W. seems to ask questions about Lord Dionysus as if it were only an insigniÀcant matter. As is well known.94 The Stoic appreciation of mythology and especially of divine names as expressions of philosophical ideas95 in combination with the fact that every schoolboy was well acquainted with traditional mythology.4 chapter six The tradition of etymology as a pedagogical instrument It is worth pointing out that Proclus’ use of etymology as a pedagogical instrument is not unprecedented. in which the author sets out to rationalize Greek mythology. V 3 p. made the discussion of traditional mythology from a philosophical point of view a logical Àrst introduction into philosophy. 95 94 . he says. and with two major themes of his interpretation of the Cratylus: the nature of names and the manner in which the study of names supports our philosophical descent. the Demiurge Dionysus. see Most 1989: 2029–2034 (‘Pedagogy’). Socrates does not tell him about the Aristotle Metaph. for the interpretation of this work as the remains of a schoolbook analogous to Cornutus.

we have seen that names too are considered to be images of real beings. What holds true for myths also holds true for one of their constituent parts. are responsible for the second demiurgy.”100 In order to understand this remark properly it is important to recall that.99 Proclus continues: “And even these the wise man gloriÀes. e. 104 On myths as playthings comparable to the material cosmos.. In our discussion of the Commentary on the Cratylus. 6. 22–28.102 According to Proclus.e.e.103 For that reason. See § 6. 644d8). Proclus explains: T. who apart from this text also discusses another relevant passage from Hermias. a term that Proclus has borrowed from Plato Lg. i. I 127. 803c4–5 (cf. this creation of the material universe is the spontaneous effect of the secondary activities of the young gods. although he calls them ‘playthings’.g. 406c2–3). 101 Chapter Àve § 4. their names. a Ànal echo in acoustic matter of the latter. For a detailed discussion of Dionysus. 14–18). In Crat.3 above. 100 99 . where it is said that ). 102 Cf. 22–24.15 [ T ]he products from the young demiurgy are called “playthings of the gods” and resemble myths ( v v )—for they are images of the real beings v and they are the last to participate in the Forms. whereas the Àrst productions are intellectual and eternal and stable and keep their essence hidden (Proclus In RP. myths are analogous to the material cosmos and may thus too be called playthings. but only about “their lowest. their creation is called a ‘plaything’. whereas their serious. i. “man is but a plaything of the gods” ( According to the Athenian Neoplatonists. 9–311. by remarking that ‘those gods are fond of playing’ (= Crat. 6. see Opsomer 2003. Moreover. Proclus In Tim. CLXXXI p. 103 Cf. III 310. encosmic universe. 260.101 the young gods of whom Dionysus is the leader. primary activities consists in the contemplation of the intelligible. we have also seen that the human name-giver imitates the demiurgy of the young gods. V 1036. see Opsomer 2003: 40–45. i.learning from divine names 193 hidden emanations of the gods.. as we have seen. 4–9. Lg. 107.e. the creation of the material.104 It is for this reason that Proclus remarked about the myth of Aphrodite’s birth that we may be inspired even by playful notions about the gods. Proclus In Parm. when he combines the form of a name with its matter. In Phdr. Dionysus as the “giver of wine”. their encosmic emanations”.3.

originate from Dionysus. . Proclus says that we had better destroy a statue of Dionysus than do this.1 § 4. According to Olympiodorus. This text reminds one of other passages from the Commentary on the Cratylus that we have come across. tears apart the undivided nature of it by means of much-divided falsehood. Since these had just eaten the infant Dionysus. this soot ultimately originates from him. i. our intellect too originates from Dionysus. the Titans attracted the attention of the infant Dionysus with a mirror and other playthings and then cut him into pieces and devoured him. cf. who carried it off to his father Zeus. CXXXIII p. 3). we do to our own Dionysus what the Titans did to the mythical Dionysus. Brisson 2002a. Therefore. Hera plotted to have Dionysus. neither is the decision to away with them. Van den Berg 2001: 288–293 (commentary on Proclus H.16 That the intellect in us is Dionysian and a true statue of Dionysus. i. even more so than those who sin against the external statues of the gods. the playthings that the Titans used to distract Dionysus. 106 Cf. like the Titans. This myth inspired the later Neoplatonists to some very ingenious interpretations. The moral lesson from the tale of Dionysus is clear enough: when we allow ourselves to get carried away by the “much-divided falsehoods” of by the world of becoming. According to this story. but to Dionysus. Olympiodorus In Phd. the fruit of one of Zeus’ adulterous affaires. we rip the most precious part of ourselves to pieces. killed. since our own intellect is more akin to him than are his statues. a reference to the myth in the context of a hymn to Athena). Proclus writes in the Commentary on the Cratylus: T. VII 11–15. 77. clearly trespasses against Dionysus himself. Only his heart was rescued intact by Athena.e. 6. At her instigation. see Pépin 1970.105 An important element in these is that we. humans. The latter stroke the Titans with his thunderbolts and from the heart created a new Dionysus. Since our bodies are not actually ours.e. As we have seen Proclus was of the 105 On the various Neoplatonic interpretation of this myth.194 chapter six King Dionysus also plays an important role in an important Orphic myth. just as much as the degree to which our intellect is more akin to the god than other things (In Crat. whosoever sins against it and.106 More important still. 24–78. According to Olympiodorus this is the reason why suicide is forbidden: our bodies do not belong to ourselves. our bodies originate from the soot of the vapors that arose from the thunder-struck Titans.

for a discussion of this text. LI p. There is a very instructive parallel here with mathematical objects. out of Dionysus’ heart Zeus created a new Dionysus. In Crat. the mathematician’s soul. 17–20. despite all the theological song and dance. Likewise.”108 Names and myths are playthings. . 20–24 discussed at pp. After we have seen them for what they really are.g. e.learning from divine names 195 opinion that there is a taboo on tinkering with names. see Steel 1997a: 305. 140–141. when it comes to realize that it is actually admiring reÁections from itself.107 All this points to the special role of names in the salvation of the human soul. According to the Neoplatonic interpretation of the Orphic myth of Dionysus. we are not supposed to become so interested in them for their own sake that we forget about their origins. Its wants to penetrate within itself to see the circle and the triangle there. The study of names is particularly helpful here. In the end. And so. whom he then gave a safe place among the gods. Proclus In Euclid. the aim of the dialogue is to make us aware of the powers of the human soul and its relation to the divine Intellect. their intelligible paradigms. For as we saw at the very beginning of the Commentary. and just as names are projections of these innate principles. the soul possesses the archetypes of the mathematical objects. Proclus compares the student of mathematics who looks at these to a man “looking at himself in a mirror and marveling at the power of nature and at his own appearance”. we stop playing around and get serious. 141.e. since names are comparable to the statues of the god. They are projections of innate principles in the phantasia.. 107 108 See. that the mathematician studies. Just as is the case with names. It is a Àrst step on the route that leads towards the realm of Zeus. so are the mathematical objects. i. just like small children that grow up lose their interest in toys. the realm of Intellect. Such a man “should wish to look upon himself directly and possess such a power as would enable him to become at the same time the seer and the object seen”. Proclus’ Ànal conclusion about the ultimate lesson of the Cratylus comes close to that of many modern scholars: that we have to leave the study of names for what it is and start examining those things of which they are images. We should likewise turn away from the Titanic world of becoming and ascend towards the world of Zeus. 19. They are akin to the gods precisely because they are the product of intellect. dismisses these “and seeks its own beauty. we have to follow the example of Lord Dionysus himself. such as circles and triangles.

as for example the Stoics. the quality of the lessons learnt from divine names does not just depend on the type of divine name involved. those given by those with scientiÀc knowledge of the divine. Proclus understands the didactic function that the Cratylus ascribes to names in this context. Proclus distinguishes between the divine names given by inspired poets. even though Proclus does not tell us exactly how we may recognize the various sorts of divine names. is typical of the Athenian Neoplatonic school. Proclus on the hermeneutics of divine names: concluding remarks To Proclus the study of divine names is a not inconsequential part of philosophy.109 Both interpretations may capture something about the gods. He shares it with such Platonic philosophers as Plutarch of Chaironeia and Theodorus of Asine. On the one hand. The Àrst aspect of this examination concerns the nature of divine names. . as well as with the Stoics. A good Platonist. 16a that the experiences expressed by names are “the same for all”.196 chapter six 8. However. The interpretation of a name is determined by the concepts about the gods that the interpreter has. his interest in divine names as sources of philosophical knowledge is not. Apparently. Since these different types of names differ in quality. Those who. do not look beyond the material realm will interpret the divine names in accordance with the lowest manifestations of the gods in the material realm. and Ànally. will interpret the names of the gods in accordance with their true. but the latter interpretation will obviously be the better one. as far as we can tell. it is clearly important for a philosopher to realize that not all divine names are the same. on the other hand there are man-made divine names. However. Proclus argues that there exist different sorts of divine names. there are the divine names that originate from the gods themselves. on the other hand. those given on the basis of sense-perception and opinion. metaphysical nature. Among the latter group. By revealing the metaphysical concept of a divine 109 On this issue. see further Sorabji forthcoming who discusses various Neoplatonic responses to Aristotle’s claim in Int. a divine name may mean different things to different people. It also depends on the philosophical qualities of the interpreter of the name. Even though the ultimate aim of his philosophy. Proclus’ detailed and systematic examination of the hermeneutics of divine names is unique. the composition of a Platonic theology.

and move to the contemplation of the paradigms of these names. The etymologies of the names of the gods in the Cratylus are an important part of the dialogue. They are both exegetical and philosophical correct. The ultimate aim of the Cratylus is 1. A theological perspective. metaphysical concepts as his master and the name-giver. A Platonic semantic theory. This semantic theory is considered to be at odds with that of Aristotle (and Porphyry). On closer inspection it turns out that we owe this knowledge. Thus. 3. of the unchanging the Forms. only.e. The psychological self-knowledge. i. below). and hence our capacity for giving correct names. Thus. the names.learning from divine names 197 name. 2. Socrates’ discussion with Hermogenes also entails a refutation of the Aristotelian theory. What is more. since we are dealing here with Plato’s interpretations of Orpheus’ theogony. by studying the issue of the correctness of names as discussed in Plato’s Cratylus we learn an important lesson about our own nature. but only the philosopher.e. Our capacity to coin correct names hints at our capacity for knowledge of the Forms. i. Taking stock: Proclus’ interpretation of the Cratylus in Àve points . not just anybody can be a name-giver. the Cratylus plays an important role in Proclus’ main philosophical project: to establish the harmony between the ancient revealed . especially in the case of individuals. In those cases in which no scientiÀc knowledge is possible. The student will now move away from the external images of these. Since scientiÀc knowledge is possible of stable entities. 9. That is to say. the teacher urges the student to look beyond the material realm. but sees to it that the name turns out to be appropriate after all. we may be unable to know the future life of a newly born infant and hence be unable to give it an appropriate name. are names that are based on knowledge. to the fact that our own souls consist of innate Forms. names refer primarily to the Forms. The student will then discover that he himself harbors the same innate. since they ought to express the nature of the things to which they refer. which comes down to knowledge of the Forms (see under 2. names are correct because of convention. Correct names. Since successful name-giving requires scientiÀc knowledge. for in order to be able to give correct names we need to know the things. As a result we may learn something about the gods through their names.

Finally. By imitating the divine Intellect. Proclus is right in . the dialogue teaches him about these. Aristotelian. be it images of his own innate Forms. Since one cannot do philosophy without language. Àrst. Not only does he create the universe as a material image of the intelligible world of Forms. to put things more precisely. A pedagogical perspective. Proclus was right in stressing the differences between Plato’s semantic theory and that of Aristotle. at demonstrating by means of compelling logical reasoning the correctness of the Platonic position. is the Àrst name-giver. also known as Zeus. we Ànd that Plato uses the Homeric divine names and myths as a starting point from which he moves to a more philosophical discussion of the gods in an effort to purify our misguided conceptions about them. and hence names. The analogy between human name-giver and divine Demiurge. he also creates the names of these things in the process. the human name-giver resembles especially the young gods. Ànally. 4. Naming is thus an imitatio Dei. we work towards fulÀllment of our goal in life. the divine Intellect.198 chapter six theologies such as that of Orpheus and Plato’s philosophy and more in particular with his Parmenides which is a philosophical theogony. Or. 5. The human name-giver resembles him in that he too creates material images (names) of the Forms. and. to become like god ( v ). Both the discussion between Socrates and Hermogenes and the etymological section work towards this end. at persuading Hermogenes/the student of the correctness of the Platonic position by means of an appeal to the authority of Homer. then. The Cratylus aims at the philosophical novice who. Moreover. The divine Demiurge. like Hermogenes in the dialogue aspires to become a Platonic philosopher. at refuting the erroneous. not of the transcendental Forms. whose task it is to weave together the immaterial formative principles with matter. has Proclus much to offer to the modern students of the Cratylus? Less than one might perhaps hope. Like Hermogenes he has to be cured of his orientation towards the material world and doxa. The discussion with Hermogenes aims. even though Aristotle does not seem to have intended his theory as a deliberate attack on that of his teacher. In the etymological section. helpers of the Demiurge. since in naming things on the basis of scientiÀc knowledge we imitate both the divine Demiurge’s contemplative and creative activities. views of Hermogenes (and hence those of the aspiring philosopher) about language. next.

be the last to admit it. . even though Proclus would. as we have seen. Neoplatonism that is as similar to Plato’s own philosophy as it is dissimilar. the Commentary is a highly interesting document regarding the views and uses of language among the Athenian Neoplatonists. Proclus’ interpretation is to a large extent the product of his own. However. Moreover. deeply religious. Even so.learning from divine names 199 that Platonic dialectic requires a Platonic semantic theory. of course. he ignores the warning that the Cratylus issues against etymology as a method of philosophical investigation.


In this Ànal chapter we shall discuss the inÁuence of Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus on the last Neoplatonists. quite understandably.CHAPTER SEVEN AFTER PROCLUS 1. if not exclusively. At the same time. Return to the harmony thesis 2. who. on Aristotle. Whereas his Plato was very Aristotelian. Proclus’ student Ammonius. the son of Hermeias. Many of these courses were committed to writing either by Ammonius himself or by his pupils. Neoplatonists such as Damascius and Olympiodorus continued to use divine names as a basis of theological study. This theological use of etymology. On the one hand. will be the topic of the second part of the present chapter. Introduction There was Neoplatonic life after Proclus. Among these are commentaries on De . because of the same harmony thesis. we shall Ànd that the Neoplatonists who commented on Aristotle. his taste was rather for Aristotle than for the Platonic theology that Proclus had practiced. for example.1 Ammonius on De Interpretatione and the Cratylus Ammonius. ascribed to Aristotle a linguistic theory that contains many Platonic elements. Not withstanding his Athenian education. Yet one could not just ignore Proclus’ work on the Cratylus and simply repeat Porphyry. 2. and subsequently returned to Alexandria in order to succeed his father Hermeias as the Alexandrian professor of philosophy. while pretending that by doing so he was just following Proclus. studied philosophy with Proclus in Athens. as appears from the fact that he lectured mainly. returned to the thesis that Plato and Aristotle were in harmony. the opposite holds true for Simplicius. felt forced to argue for the validity of the thesis that Plato in the Cratylus and Aristotle in De Interpretatione are in agreement about the nature of names. which only came to an end when the deÀnite collapse of paganism put an end to the interest in this sort of studies.

shadows and what usually appears in water or mirrors.1 Ammonius seems of the same mind when he warns his students not to sell themselves completely and take everything Aristotle says for gospel. Ammonius’ comparison of Aristotle’s view on the issue whether names are by nature or imposition to that of Plato in his commentary on De Interpretatione provides a good illustration in point. 15–19. so be it. 34. when Socrates in the Cratylus argues against Hermogenes’ assertion that names are by imposition and shows that they are by nature. Ammonius describes the Àrst case of ‘by nature’ as follows: T. none of whose parts is signiÀcant in separation” (Int. trans. it will be remembered. 8.1 Some of those who think that they are products of nature. 7. and that this is the job of the knowledgeable man. The latter. just as we see that a different perceptual sense is also assigned to different perceptibles. 17–20. but not the artiÀcial images of visible things. . 22–32. trans. Ammonius wonders “how. without time. Blank). Aristotle can insist in these words that no name is by nature?”3 Ammonius Ànds the key to this problem in distinguishing between two senses of ‘by nature’ and ‘by imposition’. v as a “spoken sound Picking up on Aristotle’s deÀnition of an signiÀcant by convention. Ammonius In Cat. 16a19–21. . 34. Ammonius In Int. .1. If on close inspection it turns out that Aristotle was wrong.2 Yet in practice Ammonius appears to return to the Porphyrian tradition of reconciling Plato with Aristotle.202 chapter seven Interpretatione and on the Categories to which we shall pay some attention in this chapter. as Cratylus the Heraclitean thought when he said that a Àtting name had been assigned by <the agency of > nature to each thing. claimed that the philosopher had to approach Aristotle as an impartial judge. to hunt down the Àtting name provided by nature for each thing. Ackrill). that those who say this kind of name are truly ‘naming’ . For he said that names resemble the natural. just as it is the job of the sharpsighted man accurately to know the appearance proper to each thing (Ammonius In Inter. 1 2 3 See chapter four § 4. for example. Whether or not this preference for Aristotle was in part motivated by political considerations—Ammonius was after all on the payroll of the Christian municipal authorities that will hardly have liked the idea of funding the study of pagan theology—it made Ammonius adopt a different attitude towards Aristotle from that of Syrianus and Proclus.

see pp. 206d1–5). pp. It is an interesting question where Ammonius got the idea from that according to some people names resemble natural images. 6 On Proclus’ interpretation of the position of Cratylus. cf. 7 Ammonius In Inter. of course. According to Ammonius. i. by them. when they Àt the nature of things named v . .6 Ammonius proceeds by opposing this to another sense in which names may be by nature. not that they are ready-made by nature and only need to be discovered. Ammonius illustrates this by means of the names . Hadot 1987.g. .e. i.4 scholars generally assume that Ammonius’ interpretation of the Cratylus coincides with that of Proclus.7 The example recalls. Cratylus ) by knowledgeable humans after holds that names are crafted ( the nature of things. 35. 6–11. Yet. to v v ) by means of express one’s thought in verbs and nouns (v voice—forming an image of one’s belief in the stream that comes from one’s mouth. Ammonius continues by distinguishing two corresponding senses of “by imposition”. the discussion of the names of Hector and Astyanax in the Cratylus. On the one hand. 1–5. Cratylus holds that nature produces names as some sort of natural images that Áoat around until they are caught by a knowledgeable man who recognizes them to be naturally correct names. Blank 1995: 5–6. ?” (Tht..e. 5 4 . and . e. there are people like Hermogenes. according to Proclus Cratylus holds that “the proper name of each thing was imposed by Àrst name-givers with skill and knowledge”. The Theaetetus contains a passage that might have inspired him: “. on the other hand. such as reÁections in water or mirrors. People who hold that names are by nature in this way too believe that names are a sort of images.after proclus 203 Both because this passage recalls Proclus’ discussion of the four ways in which something can be said to be by nature and because Ammonius had assured his readers in the introduction to his commentary that his Commentary on De Interpretatione is basically that of Proclus. be it this time artiÀcial ones. when they say that names are by imposition mean: Ammonius In Int. Don’t you think that this is a this passage. Certainly not from the Cratylus. 6. who assume that names are by imposition in the sense that “it is possible for any man to name any thing with whatever name he likes”. Sheppard 1987. Others. on as if in a mirror or a pond. These are all by nature names that Àt someone with a talent for leadership. 109–112.5 I doubt this. 143–144. See. Ammonius thus combines Proclus’ second and third sense of being ‘by nature’. 1.

g. but also express.9 Ammonius may be right that Aristotle at least implicitly assumes that names not just refer to the things of which they are names.2 that names are given by the ‘namegiver’ alone.8 David Sedley has recently made a similar point by drawing attention to the fact that Aristotle is happy to accept etymologies from the Cratylus. of course. . 3–7. holds that Socrates (and hence Plato) does not agree with Hermogenes. 7. shows that names are not T. 35.) (Ammonius In Inter. 197b29 f. 16b13). This description refers. like Proclus. or else he is the servant of the one who knows. trans. Aristotle denies that names are ‘by nature’ in the Àrst sense. and. since these have a nature which is determinate and intelligible to us . e. In support of this claim Ammonius lists passages where Aristotle discusses the etymologies of words as well as passages where Aristotle coins himself words which show that he tried to come up with names that are somehow appropriate for the things which he sets out to name. 8 . Yet it should be observed that Proclus would agree with Ammonius only up to a point. to the name-giver from the Cratylus who works under the supervision of a dialectician in order to compose names that reÁect reality. and that in this respect his views on names do not differ signiÀcantly from those of Plato. According to him. the etymology of v (cf. is instructed to invent and to impose a Àtting and appropriate name for it (Ammonius In Inter. Yet. Aristotle Phys. 37. from him the substance of each existing thing. he writes. Proclus would. II 6.) and the neologism v (cf. 9 Sedley 2003: 30–31. especially to those names by which we indicate the universal and simply the eternal things.. 14–27. Blank). 16–21.204 chapter seven T. Ammonius. of course. Socrates. and that he is the one who has knowledge of the nature of things and states a name appropriate to the nature of each existing thing. Ammonius mentions.3 ‘by imposition’ in the way that Hermogenes thought (for ‘by nature’ applies to them in the second sense of ‘by nature’. learning. Blank). 7. he would not object to saying that names are ‘by nature’ in the second sense. or tend to express these. Aristotle De Inter. which he ascribes to Heraclitus. accept that Hermogenes is wrong as well as the idea that we are especially capable of naming eternal things since Ammonius In Int. 37. Ammonius now argues that this second sense of ‘by imposition’ coincides with the second sense of ‘by nature’. . trans.

on the interpretation of the in later Neoplatonism. 11 10 of the Categories . of the Categories. Ammonius appears to follow Porphyry. Ammonius Discussing the old chestnut of the argues.2 Ammonius on language in his Commentary on the Categories If Ammonius’ account of language in his Commentary on the De Interpretatione contains Platonic elements such as the idea that naming is not the task of just anyone but of a knowledgeable name-giver or at least one working under the supervision of a knowledgeable person. arsions ( gues that since these expressions refer to things.1. Yet. even though we Ànd in Ammonius’ brief discussion of the Cratylus elements that recall Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus. we still have to assume that Ammonius’ attempt to harmonize Plato with Aristotle is entirely his own. had argued that language refers primarily to objects in the sensible realm. Moreover. names belong primarily to the intelligible Forms. his ill-informed remarks about Cratylus leave one with the impression that he had not studied the Cratylus very carefully. 7. What are these things according to Ammonius? In his Commentary on De Interpretatione.10 Porphyry. 9.after proclus 205 these can be known. a recurrent theme in the Commentary on the Cratylus. Hence. his account from his Commentary on the Categories is decisively PorphyrianAristotelian and hence not very Platonic.3) are by nature in the second sense. be it with some modiÀcations. Ammonius In Cat. especially where the object of names is concerned. 10–11. As Proclus had highlighted in his Commentary on the Parmenides. on the other hand. be it indirectly through v ) and our concepts of these. Hoffmann 1987. 2. Their material participants down here are called after these. under the inÁuence of the Cratylus. The latter is. we have also seen that Proclus systematically and continously links Hermogenes’ view to that of Aristotle and that he is at pains to expose both their views as misguided. as we have seen. for these things were the Àrst to be seen and hence the Àrst to be named. thus suggesting that he believed See chapter three § 5. cf. with Porphyry. concepts ( v as we shall see in the case of Simplicius’ interpretation of the Categories. but then. he claimed that especially the names of “the universal and simply the eternal” (T. that the Categories deals with signiÀcant expresv ). the Categories is also about things ( ). going beyond Porphyry.11 This catch-all interpretation will prove inÁuential.

until in 529 ce the teaching of pagan philosophy was outlawed. and that the word ‘Socrates’ would signify a certain substance. Ammonius In Cat. Thus it appears that there is some tension between Ammonius’ account of language in his Commentary on the De Interpretatione and his Commentary on the Categories. being a social animal. This may have escaped his notice. somewhere between 523 and 538 ce..g. by means of convention. His commentaries on works of Aristotle. 24–25: “Aristotle is here discussing things known by perception and to ‘the many’ ” (trans. 7. whom he joined in Athens. 13 Chapter three § 5. Damascius. since man. but it had caught the eye of his student Simplicius who in his Commentary on the Categories tried to read a Platonic view of language into the Categories. would be named ‘wood’ and that ( ). including his Commentary on the Categories.4 And after they banded together. Cohen & Matthews).12 Like Porphyry. on the other 12 Cf. . ‘stone’. note that there name the concrete individual (the is no mention of a knowledgeable name-giver.3 Simplicius on language in his Commentary on the Categories Simplicius had been a student of Ammonius at Alexandria and of Damascius. 2. needed a means to communicate their thoughts to one another in order to enable him to live in groups: T. and ‘walk’ a certain action (Ammonius In Cat.13 Furthermore. and especially not to the pagan rituals involved. Yet. he assumes that this is because people initially gave names to the things that they perceived by means of sense-perception. for example. he takes the Porphyrian line that the Categories are about signiÀcant expressions about the sensible universe. It will be remembered that Proclus had explicitly denied that we Àrst ).e. Ammonius tells us.1. i. Ammonius. were composed after this period. trans. in the Commentary on the Categories. in order not to arouse suspicion. e. human beings agreed with one another ( ) that this ( v ). 33. Cohen & Matthews). Simplicius returned within the pale of the Roman Empire. It was probably no coincidence that Simplicius ended up with Damascius in Athens. Naming happens much as Hermogenes had suggested it in the Cratylus.. After a period of exile in Persia. had chosen not to call too much attention to the religious aspect of Neoplatonism. Nature. 11. gave mankind speech. 11–14.206 chapter seven that language primarily refers to the Forms.

as the true heir of Proclus. e. e.15 must have felt naturally attracted to Damascius’ school. 23–32. due to the religious and mystical attitude of the Athenians and to their interest in Plato that exceeded that of the Alexandrians. 16 See Praechter 1910. who was imbued with a great sense of pagan spirituality as appears. 12. What is more. he opts on most issues ( of the Categories: the Categories are for the same kind of catch-all about signiÀcant expressions and hence also about things and our notions of these.. they should not convict Plato and Aristotle of discordance by looking only at the letter and not at the spirit of what Aristotle says against Plato. 7. These days it is often maintained that there are no major doctrinal differences between the Alexandrian and Athenian Neoplatonists.17 Like his erstwhile teacher.g. Ammonius’ position had been that language refers primarily to the 14 On Ammonius’ and Damascius’ different attitudes towards pagan religious practices. Soon.g.16 Indeed.18 Like Ammonius. signiÀcant expressions and the nature of things are not wholly separate from each other: names are v naturally suited to signify these things ( 20 v ). 15 On this topic. Simplicius’ account of language starts to deviate from that of Ammonius and to approach that of Proclus. . At Àrst sight. Hoffmann 1987b: 72–76 on the religious aspects of Simplicius’ commentary on Aristotle’s De Caelo. from the prayers in his commentaries. Simplicius argues. Particularly.. 12. insisted on it. 18 Simplicius In Cat. see Sorabji 2005.19 For. however. but I wish to maintain that there are doctrinal differences all the same. 19 Cf. he is a Àrm supporter of the harmony thesis.14 Simpicius.. cf. He admonishes his students to take an unbiased attitude to Aristotle. Simplicius In Cat. there is little evidence for the enormous divide between Athens and Alexandria that Praechter postulated. D’Ancona 2005 offers an exhaustive account of the scholarly debate about the relation between the Alexandrian and Athenian schools that Praechter initiated together with her own interesting views on the issue. Simplicius in the Commentary on the Categories seems to follow closely in the footsteps of Ammonius. Neither do thoughts ( v ) stand apart from language and reality. see Hoffmann 1987. 1–3. as was once claimed by K. 13–15. 20 Simplicius In Cat. 17 For an excellent discussion of Simplicius’ views about Aristotle’s Categories and language. I shall argue that Simplicius’ Commentary on the Categories bears the marks of Athenian Neoplatonism. Praechter. but instead attempt to discover the harmony that exists between them v ).after proclus 207 hand.

Because of our fall into the realm of becoming. Simplicius In Cat. who holds that language refers primarily to our concepts of the metaphysical Forms. which had until then grown cold (Simplicius In Cat.21 It is interesting to note that elsewhere Simplicius shows himself aware of the fact that this is a Platonic position and that it differs from the Aristotelian position. as Ph. The human soul possesses the same things as Intellect does. Damascius likewise claims that names refer primarily “to intermediate Forms. 7. trans. See pp. Not so according to Simplicius. things.22 Simplicius does not consider these as mutual exlusive views. When we return to the Commentary on the Categories.208 chapter seven sensible world and our concepts of it. despises these customary meanings and hurries towards the contemplation of the intelligible. 1249. 12. Chase 2003 adapted). Plato. and 21 22 23 Damascius In Phd. “And there is no need of spoken language. it is the oral teaching of the master that triggers the recollection in the soul of the pupil: T.”23 The situation is different in the case of the human soul. there is Simplicius’ account of the relation between concepts. 18–19.5 The soul needs hearing in order to recollect. 12. we Ànd that. on the other hand. be it in a secondary . First. For the soul needs someone who has already beheld the truth. Whereas Proclus had opposed the customary meaning of words to their true meaning which depends on contemplation of the Forms. thinking ( the things are the same. I § 346. 26–28. by means of spoken ) uttered forth from the concept ( language ( v ). we Ànd that Sim) and plicius continues by explaining that in Intellect. we forget way as about these innate ideas. but argues that perfect demonstration consists in a combination of these two. who. 12–17 he explains that Aristotle always aims at maintaining the v ) and bases customary meaning of words ( his arguments on what is evident to sense-perception. In In Phys. the objects of discursive reason”. Hoffmann points out. . and hence indirectly to the intelligible Forms. In the case of hearing. also moves the concept within [the soul of the student]. When we compare Simplicius’ views to those of the Alexandrian commentators on Aristotle. Seeing and hearing stimulate our recollection of them. Simplicius differs from the latter on at least two different points. 83–84.

to a similar remark in Olympiodorus In Cat. Simplicius attributes another function to language than does Ammonius. it makes them adjust to realities.g.6 Language is.28 Simplicius refers here to a work wrongly ascribed to Hoffmann 1987: 82–84. Hoffmann 1987: 61–62. i. Therefore. as also appears from the prayer at the end of the commentary in which Simplicius asks that his study may free him from the distractions of life in the material realm and direct him to more noble contemplations.25 Secondly. 7.. the concepts from intellect. 26 Hoffmann 1987: 81. 26: v . and prepares them not only to wish to be without language.24 Alexandrine commentators. 33–36. stimulating recollection by means of oral communication. 27 Simplicius In Cat. and gathers them together into the unanimity of thought. 13. 13. and have become distinguished from one another. e.26 For Ammonius. he rejects the natural character of names. on the other hand. Simplicius seems to have doubts about the harmony between Plato and Aristotle in regard to the question whether names are by nature or convention. This education has as its aim to make the student aspire to return to the realm of Intellect from which his soul originates: T. but to wish no longer even to have concepts which are other then realities (Simplicius In Cat. following Ammonius. A page later he reports that. remark that the things are derived from the divine. language has primarily a social function. Simplicius. Aristotle does not take into consideration the One. presents language as a tool for teaching philosophy in the Platonic sense. 18. 25 24 . 24–29. according to some people. As we have just seen.after proclus 209 language. 4–9. 438. Chase). the limit of psychic activity. who refers. sends them back up to the Intellect. he himself is committed to the view from the Cratylus that names are naturally suited to signify things. Ammonius In Inter. but they do not explain how these three relate. may ultimately lead us back to Intellect is important to Simplicius.e. 26–27.27 Very interestingly. as well as for all the Alexandrine commentators on the Categories that followed in his footsteps. 28 Simplicius In Cat. trans. cf. and the vocal sounds from the soul. second. First. This passage is not mentioned by Hoffmann. and. and it pertains to limits to convert things towards their principles. language takes those souls which have departed from Intellect and from beings. The idea that the study of language. 24. a product of the fallen soul. except perhaps on two points. moreover. Aristotle in the Categories followed the Pythagorean Archytas in everything.

210 chapter seven Plato’s contemporary Archytas. 9–12: names are external moving images of interior visions of the wise name-givers. see. as we have seen in Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus. Dexippus’ version is informative here.. 30 Chapter four § 5. Aristotle’s Categories opens with a discussion of homonymy and synonymy. LI where he explains that names have a double power. whether or not Aristotle may think differently about this. to the student.31 Language thus weaves a kind of communion between souls. this treatise depends on Aristotle. 124. These names refer to concepts that originate ultimately from the Forms contained in the divine Intellect. 17. being considered as a part of the Pythagorean tradition. v Dexippus In Cat. which contained a version of Aristotle’s categories and on whom Aristotle was believed to depend. Language is an instrument of philosophical instruction by means of which the teacher who has already seen the truth communicates this by means of moving images. Yet Neoplatonists from Iamblichus onwards took it as an indication of the harmony between Platonism. is absent from Archytas and the Neoplatonists felt urged to account for this. Theol. and Aristotle. This discussion. the Neoplatonic commentators also noted differences. though.29 Indeed.32 Last but not least there is a mystical element about the study of language: it sets us on the track of divine Intellect. In fact. Dillon 1990. He suggests that Archytas does not deal with these because homonymy and synonymy are not in accord with Pythagorean principles.e. Both Simplicius and Proclus hold that names are naturally suited to signify the things they are names of. While looking for parallels between these two works. names. i. homonymy and synonymy were traditionally regarded as arguments against the Platonic-Pythagorian thesis that names are by nature. thus bringing about our ascent to the metaphysical realm from which we had fallen away. trans. I 29 p. Plat. 20. e. 29 . v v . 19–20: ). the similarities are striking. On the one hand. they divide being. “for since they lay down that names are attached to things by nature.g. 31 For Proclus. on the other hand they teach the thoughts v of the master and are the cause of communion (p. they deny all anomaly in language”. 1–3: .30 When we compare Simplicius’ views on language to those of Proclus. 32 Proclus hints at this in In Crat. Simplicius here refers to such a case.

the last head of the Athenian school. T. He supposes that his name was wrongly inserted here due to an error on the part of the student who recorded Damascius’ lectures. but this identiÀcation is now almost unanimously rejected.after proclus 3. also goes for Damascius’ Commentary on the Philebus: due to the fact that we are dealing here See pp. Dillon 1985: 211). a contemporary of Longinus. T. The exception to the rule is Hirschle 1979: 63–65 (“Exkurs zu ‘Demokrit’ B142”). his interest in Proclus’ method of theologizing from divine names was only to be expected. § 24). ‘Démocrite’). which may well have precipitated the closure of the school in 529. without committing himself to one of these. esp.7 Why is there this great reverence of Socrates for the names of the gods? – Either because long ago the proper names were consecrated to the proper gods and it is wrong to move what should not be moved. – Or because they are vocal statues and these are from the gods.33 Damascius puts forth three possible explanations for this respect. 33 34 . – Or because these are by nature related to them in the manner described in the Cratylus. H. Theology from divine names 3. 7. However. who took a great interest in numerology and the numerical signiÀcance of names (cf. but he discussed the issue of divine names in his Commentary on the Philebus. 110–112. Another candidate is the Middle Platonist Democritus.v. as Democritus34 says. was a philosopher’s philosopher: his work is the product of a critical re-examination of Proclus’ theological Platonism in which metaphysical speculations are pushed to their extremes. Who is this Democritus? Diels-Kranz (68 DK B 142) once suggested that this Democritus is the famous atomist. This suggestion is hardly attractive. Given his theological interests. Saffrey 1979: 8–9 has suggested that we are dealing here with an otherwise unknown Neoplatonist who was active after Iamblichus (cf. Finally. 12c). 4.1 Continuing in Proclus’ footsteps: Damascius 211 Damascius. since the idea that names are ‘vocal statues’ v ) of the gods only becomes current in later Neoplatonism from ( Hierocles onwards.9. (Damascius In Phlb. Damascius did not do a commentary on the Cratylus. Brisson 1994b: 716–717 s. D. lack of evidence does not allow for any Àrm conclusion. As will be remembered. What goes for Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus. already Proclus in his Commentary on the Cratylus had drawn attention to the fact that Socrates in the Philebus expresses his deepest reverence for divine names (Phlb.

38 Damascius does not just follow Proclus’ theory of divine names. for example.1. 6f. To change correct names.1. The parallels which he refers to. This position recalls Proclus’ refutation of Hermogenes’ position. uses it in connection with the removal of an ancient statue of Athena from the Athenian Acropolis. As we have seen. Proclus in his Commentary on the Cratylus assumes that the theory of correct names v from the Cratylus implies that divine names are ‘vocal statues’ ( ).e. yet the question is how they differ. The addition of the proverbial expression “moving ) suggests that much: what should not be moved” ( Marinus Proclus § 30. i. clear: names have been consecrated ( Apparently to change their names. chapter Àve § 3. 38 Chapter four § 7. Westerink 1959: XII. The addition “and these are from the gods” ( ) points in this direction.212 chapter seven with notes taken by a student.36 The second explanation is that in the Cratylus we learn that correct ) in the sense that names are related to their names are by nature ( ). they are like statues of the gods and hence the property of the gods. Proclus had backed up his unorthodox interpretation of that heaven as being situated below the On the vagueness of some notes. how exactly these three explanations relate. the identiÀcation of names with statues recalls the Àrst reason: we respect the statues of the gods because they are their property.35 One wonders. Such changes are evidently to be rejected. things are less transparent as one might wish. but it would be an unprecedented idea. On the expression see further Saffrey-Segonds 2001: 165 additional note 1 to p. he also takes over from him arguments based on etymology. on this account. a sacrilegious act.37 Moreover. This could be. It seems logical to assume that they are all different ones. 36. 37 Cf. 36 35 . According to Westerink 1982: 15 Damascius means to say that the deity is actually present in its name. are not valid ones. For this reason we have to treat them with the same respect that is due to the gods themselves. Damascius third reason combines the Àrst two: since the names of the gods resemble them in the manner of the Cratylus. A good ) in the example is Damascius’ interpretation of the heaven ( myth from the Phaedrus. objects ( means to change something correct into something incorrect. to take their old names away. The Àrst explanation is sufÀciently ) to the gods long ago. If so. cf. But what to make of the third explanation? As we have seen. would be something like carrying off old consecrated statues of the gods.

39 Damascius is happy to take of the god for over this interpretation of that etymology of the name the same reason.-Dionysius’ On Divine Names. born at some time in between 495 and 505 CE. Crat. he represents the rather mechanical continuation of the Alexandrian philosophical school.2 Platonic and Christian perspectives: Olympiodorus and Ps. Westerink 1990: 329–336. 13–16 for the etymology of (cf. e. Zeus. 24–92. Phanes.41 By no means the equal to such intellectual giants as Proclus and Damascius. chapter six § 5. the etymological section of the Cratylus was inspired by attempts to harmonize traditional mythology with contemporary intellectual developments by means of allegory and etymology.. 40 39 . Damascius attempts to deÀne 421b7–c2). Cronus. 41 On Olympiodorus. II 78. 184–187 above. 402b2–4). Damascius Princip. Christian. He produced commentaries on both Plato (Alcibiades. 4 ed. Olympiodorus appears to follow Proclus’ method of theologizing on the basis of divine names. 396b6–7). Etymologies of divine names from the Cratylus were subsequently used over and over again for the same purpose.40 3. cf. In Parm. III 59. approach towards divine names as a source of theology.after proclus 213 intelligible world by means of an appeal to the etymology of the name from the Cratylus. Damascius In (cf. 91. Westerink-Combès. In the case of Proclus we have discussed at some length the way in which he uses the etymologies from the Cratylus to harmonize the kings from Orphic mythology. 1–8 where 10–11 for the etymology of on the basis of an etymology from (cf. As we have seen. Crat. about a work that for its title alone deserves being mentioned here. To start with.42 Olympiodorus takes a leaf from Proclus’ book when in his Commentary on the Phaedo he See pp. Metereologica). This gives us the opportunity to say some things.g. II p. see.-Dionysius Olympiodorus. had been a student of Ammonius and obtained his chair after Ammonius’ immediate successor Eutocius. III 42. such as can be found in Ps. however brieÁy. Uranus. 42 Cf. Parm. Crat. Gorgias and Phaedo) and Aristotle (Categories.2. and In Parm. and Dionysus with his own Neoplatonic metaphysics. At the same time he alludes to another. He is one of the last witnesses of the continuing interest in Proclus’ theology from divine names.

this does not lead him to adopt a very hostile attitude towards the Christians. just as we call Demeter ‘wheat’ and Dionysus ‘wine’. 1 § 5. trans Westerink). hence he is torn to pieces.8 Or. Olympiodorus did not hesitate to confess to Platonic doctrines that ran counter to Christian dogmas. Olympiodorus’ originality consists in using the method of harmonizing traditional mythology with contemporary thought by means of etymology to make ancient mythology acceptable for his Christian students. (pure nous). ‘genesis’ stands for its causes. What is of particular interest about this passage is Olympiodorus’ remark that the Titans are called after their products. which is derived from (seeing things above). by Westerink 1976. 1 §§ 4–5. i. 7. they expressed in the parents’ names”. symbolized by the reign of Dionysus. because he sees is therefore called himself. 1] says: “What they saw in the children. Ànally. just as happens in the case of Demeter and Dionysus. for. for the universal form is broken up in genesis. because Dionysus is the patron of this world. “who . In the Titans who tear him to pieces. Yet contrary to Proclus and Damascius. Olympiodorus’ explanation of what the meaning of the murder of Dionysus is essentially that of Proclus.e. who is supposed to have discussed them in a symbolical way. who had described the same principle in a poetical way in one of his (now lost) hymns.43 The reign of Uranus represents the contemplative virtues: “Hence the name . Olympiodorus appears from his commentaries as an adept of traditional religion. i. the Titans: T. it represents the sufferings of the human soul that falls into the realm of genesis. and Dionysus is the monad of the Titans. where extreme division prevails because of ‘mine’ and ‘thine’. As L. When it is said that he is torn by genesis. . the soul lives by ethical and physical virtues. 43 Olympiodorus In Phd. G. and the Titans chew his Áesh. Proclus had made the same observation in his Commentary on the Cratylus. but he does so in the case of Dionysus’ slayers. trans.214 chapter seven traces back the Platonic hierarchy of virtues of the soul to Orpheus. because these virtues do not imply each other.e.” The puriÀcatory virtues are represented by the reign of Cronus. as Proclus [Hymns.” Olympiodorus does not etymologize the names of Zeus and Dionysus. (Olympiodorus In Phd. Westerink has pointed out. and indeed Olympiodorus refers his readers to Proclus. mastication standing for the extreme division. the ti (‘something’) denotes the particular. frg.

45 but instead think of the reality for which they stand. A good illustration in point is the way in which he suggests that his Christian students may deal with the Greek gods mentioned in traditional and Platonic mythology. but that they are implicit in the First Cause. as the Christians would have it.44 Olympiodorus in his Commentary on the Gorgias 47 stresses that the Platonists too hold that there is only one God. that Olympiodorus himself does not For this passage. Unlike Proclus. Olympiodorus explains that the power of Cronus is that of pure Nous (In Grg. you may take it that these powers have no being of their own and no separate existence. because of its transcendence is without name. i. Westerink). 46 Westerink 1990: 332. to which you can ascribe intellectual and vivifying faculties (Olympiodorus In Grg. 4). 7. Proclus too tells his students that there is no reason to get confused by myths. cf. This is at least how Westerink interprets the following remark:46 T. however. from which all things spring.9 If you like. Olympiodorus mentions the powers of Cronus and Zeus. pp. Olympiodorus. symbolic names. but which itself. though. This Àrst cause produces powers that are superior to us which in turn produce other powers and so forth until our world and we are produced. By suggesting to consider the lower orders of deities as mere functions or attributes of the one God.e. uses etymology in order to harmonize traditional mythology with Neoplatonic philosophy. On the basis of the well-known etymologies from Cratylus. 47. and that of Zeus that of Life (In Grg. For a Christian it is impossible to accept the existence of divine beings other than the trinity. Olympiodorus adds. 47. he next tries to make ancient mythology acceptable for philosophers. 45 44 . trans.after proclus 215 yet he did not intend to bring things to a head. he denies that this Àrst cause itself is the mediate cause of all things. see Westerink 1990: 331–333. Note. so his students should not be confused by them. 47. one single transcendent cause. 2. As examples of these powers. Olympiodorus made Neoplatonic theology potentially acceptable for Christians. as the Neoplatonists claim. like Proclus before him. Being a good Platonist. 188–189. These are. In other words. he also tries to make this interpretation of ancient mythology acceptable for the Christians in his audience. 3). even if these deities depend for their existence on the Àrst God.


chapter seven

subscribe to this point of view. This is, in the words of Westerink, “a deliberate invitation to talk at cross-purposes, professor and students each attaching a meaning of their own to the terms used”. In support of Westerink’s interpretation, we may add that this approach had actually been adopted by contemporary Christian Neoplatonists. The best illustration of this is provided by the mysterious Ps.-Dionysius the Areopagite in his work On the Divine Names. About Ps.-Dionysius himself we know nothing, yet his works show that he had been heavily inÁuenced by Proclus. This holds also true for On the Divine Names which clearly draws some of its inspiration from the Parmenides and the Neoplatonic commentaries on that dialogue.47 The work discusses, as the title indicates, the names by which God is known. In the introduction, Ps.-Dionysius explains that God as such cannot be known and cannot be named.48 This recalls Proclus’ interpretation of Parm. 142a 3–6 according to which of the One there is no name, description, knowledge, sense-perception or opinion. Indeed Ps.-Dionysius refers, tacitly, to this passage from the Parmenides.49 But how about the fact that we Ànd many names of God in the Scriptures? According to Ps.-Dionysius these should be understood as analogies ( ) which enable the human mind to grasp in this manner what it cannot grasp as such. These are like rays of light, which are rooted in God himself that illuminate everybody in accordance with one’s capacity for illumination. This is not unlike what Proclus says about the fact that we name the One and the most supreme gods in an analogical fashion after things that are inferior to them but that allow us to grasp something about the gods who surpass knowledge and hence naming.50 The relation between the Neoplatonic interpretation of the Parmenides and Ps.-Dionysus goes even further. Among the names that Ps.-Dionysus attributes to God, are rather unbiblical names such as ‘greatness’ and ‘smallness’, ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’, ‘likeness’ and ‘unlikeness’, ‘rest’, ‘motion’ and ‘equality’ (IX). They originate from the Parmenides (even though Ps.-Dionysius tries to trace these names back to the Bible).51
47 On the relation between On Divine Names and the Neoplatonic interpretations of the Parmenides, see, e.g., Corsini 1962. 48 Ps.-Dionysius On Divine Names I.1. 49 For Proclus’ interpretation of this passage from the Parmenides, see pp. 163–164. Ps.-Dionysius refers to this passage in On Divine Names I. 5–6, cf. Corsini 1962: 104. 50 See the discussion on p. 166. 51 Cf. Corsini 1962: 92–98 on the Parmenides as the source of these names.

after proclus


As we have seen, Proclus had interpreted the second hypothesis of the Parmenides as Plato’s own theogony and the qualities discussed in it such as sameness et cetera as Platonic counterparts to the divine names from Greek mythology. Like Proclus, Ps.-Dionysius connects Plato’s Parmenides to his Holy Scripture, be it, in this case, the Bible and not Hesiod’s theogony. However, unlike Proclus, Ps-Dionysius does not explicitly refer to the Parmenides. Moreover, he does not regard the qualities from the Parmenides as names of divine entities other than the supreme god, but as attributes of a unique God, just as Olympiodorus had suggested that his Christian students might do. This little discussion may sufÀce to give an impression of the extent of Proclus’ inÁuence on Ps.-Dionysius’ theory of divine names. It is especially Proclus’ interpretation of the Parmenides that informs his discussion, not that of the Cratylus. And quite understandably so, for the names of the Greek gods, which were at the heart of Proclus’ theology from names, were of no interest to the Christian Ps.-Dionysius. And so, with the disappearance of pagan gods disappeared the need to make them philosophically acceptable. In the process, the Cratylus as an instrument for turning mythology into philosophy lost its purpose.

Editions Cited of the Principal Texts Anonymous Westerink, L. G. & Trouillard, J. & Segonds, A. Ph. (1990), Prolégomènes à la philosophie de Platon (Paris). Alcinous Whittaker, J. & Louis, P. (1990), Alcinoos. Enseignement des doctrines de Platon (Paris). Aristotle Minio-Paluello, L. (1949), Aristotelis Categoriae et Liber De Interpretatione (Oxford). Rashed, M. (2005), Aristote. De la génération et la corruption (Paris). Ross, W. D. (1956), De Anima (Oxford). Ross, W. D. (1964), Aristotelis Analytica Priora et Posteriora (Oxford). Ross, W. D. (1959), Ars Rhetorica (Oxford). Chaldaean Oracles Des Places, É. (19963), Oracles Chaldaïques avec un choix de commentaires anciens (Paris). Cicero Reid, J. S. (1885), M. Tulli Ciceronis Academica (London). Cornutus Lang, C. (1881), Cornuti Theologiae Graecae Compendium (Leipzig). Damascius Westerink, L. G. (1977), The Greek Commentators on Plato’s Phaedo II: Damascius (Amsterdam). —— (19822), Damascius: Lectures on the Philebus wrongly attributed to Olympiodorus. Text, Translation, Notes and Indices (Amsterdam). —— & Combès, J. (1986–1991), Damascius: Traité des premiers principes, 3 volumes (Paris). —— & Combès, J. & Segonds, A.-Ph. (1997–2003), Damascius: Commentaire du Parménide de Platon, 4 volumes (Paris). Hierocles Koehler, F. G. (1974), Hieroclis In aureum Pythagoreorum carmen commentarius (Leipzig). Iamblichus Des Places, É. (19892), Jamblique: Les Mystères d’Egypte (Paris). Dillon, J. M. (1973), Iamblichi Chalcidensis In Platonis dialogos commentariorum fragmenta (Leiden). Marinus Saffrey, H. D. & Segonds, A.-Ph. (2001), Proclus ou Sur le Bonheur (Paris). Olympiodorus Westerink, L. G. (1976), The Greek Commentators on Plato’s Phaedo I: Olympiodorus (Amsterdam).



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3 c.50 27 169 192n. 4 c.33 37–43 40 40 Alexander of Aphrodisias In Aristotelis Metaphysica commentaria 322. 429a13–18 III 4.58 De Interpretatione 16a3–9 16a19–21 16a26–29 16b13 16b33–17a3 17a1–2 De Sensu 437a9–16 Ethica Nicomachea 1107b2 1107b7–9 1123a34–35 1129a31–b1 1140b11–12 Historia Animalium III 12. 34–39 79.12 In Aristotelis de Interpretatione 1. 197b29f.2 205n. 153. 123 23 28n.94 65n.4 24. 20–21. 43–160.8 63. 25–28 c. 4–5 171n. 11–14 33.13 84n. 31 Alcinous Didaskalikos c. 156.25 65n. 6–11 203n. 24–29 209n.60 27 24n.25 34.28 63.11 206 206n. 17–20 202n. 22–32 202 35.68 443. 430a3–4 De Generatione Animalium 769b10 ff.68 590.54 Ammonius In Aristotelis Categorias 8.68 In Aristotelis Topicorum libros 87. 15–19 9.63 39n.73. 10–11 11.60 28n. 38n.51 . 3. 24–25 De Generatione et Corruptione 314a4 26 315b16 27n. 159. 4. 5–6 Categoriae 1a1 1a6–8 3b10 7a6–22 De Anima II 5. 7 ff. 519a18–20 Metaphysica 982b12–19 991a5–8 Physica B 1.INDEX OF PASSAGES CITED Albinus Prologos 3 p.28 21n. 192b120–23 B 6. 12 ff. 155 202 22 204n.13 107 204n.3 34.56 318b18–33 27n. 1–5 203 37. 24–28 c. 10.81 38n. 119n.26 116n. 27.8 202n. 7–18 123n. 418a3–6 III 4.40 21n.41 126n. 3–7 204 37. 148.10 70n.8 22–24 122n. 119n. 137n.41 21n. 165.8 Aristotle Analytica Posteriora II 10. 41 c. 1–2 113n.79 65n. 14–17 204n. 181. 6.74 Anonymous Prolegomena in Platonis Philosophiam X 26. 119n. 5. 30 ff. 93b29–35 II 19 25 25n.

35 p. 2–5 Damascius De Principiis I 17 p.85 37n. 10 index of passages cited 57n.70 119n. 11–5.25 213n. 3 38n. 24–92. Topica 105a18 164a12–b7 Athenaeus Deipnosophistae 2.49 182n. 15 119n. 28 p. 210n.13 213n. 76. 28 p. 18–63.17 49n. 52. 2 II 91.13 164n.25 Galenus De anatomicis administrationibus libri II 581 56 De methodo medendi libri (MM) X8 57 X 71 58 De placitis Hippocratis et Platonis (PHP) II 2.48 36n.70 38n. 10–199.84 113n. 1–8 III 42. 25–30 Diogenes Laertius III 50 III 57–58 VII 200.61 35n.44.40 213n. 5–7 56n.52 190n.42 34n. 1–3 41. 13–16 III 59.33 146n.34 147 164n. 36 99n.88 Dionysius of Halicarnassos De compositione verborum 61.81.70 208 119n. 4–7. 1. 17–76. 20 In Parmenidem II 78. 9 X 13–14 Diogenes of Oenoanda 10.70 150n.16 22n.77 146n.25 43n.40 119n. 14–17 c.13. 10–11 In Phaedonem I 49. 19–22 Chaldaean Oracles 8 16 17 87 108 109 116 132 145 Cicero Academica I 32 II 30 De Fininbus V 59 De Natura Deorum II 24 Cornutus Epidrome c. 1404b1 ff.29 Elias In Aristotelis Categorias 123.70 119n. 75.51 85n.40 213n.70 119n. 2. 1–3 Epicurus Epistula ad Herodotum 75–76 Eusebius Praeparatio Evangelica XI 6 76n.9 58n. 187 165 Derveni-papyrus col.20 45 46n. XIV Dexippus In Aristotelis Categorias 17.80 .52 46n.40 170n.54 119 I 264–265 I 346 I 474 I 480 I 525 In Philebum 24 47 183 186 186n. 54. 12–21 c. 4 II 198. 5 I 57 I 184 I 262.29 72 38n.61 211 178n.230 Rhetorica III 2.

374–90 Iamblichus De Mysteriis VII 4–5 VII 5 Lucretius V 1050–5 Marinus Proclus § 8.7 86n. 15–150.104 33 80n.60 166 Philo of Alexandria De mutatione nominum (Mut.) 150 De plantatione (Plant. Old Testament Gen.70 89 101n.70 215 214n.75 185n.67 52 79–81 71n. 2 47 In Phaedonem I §§ 4–6 I§5 I§6 Origenes Contra Celsum I 24 I 24–25 Orphica Frg. 20 53. 2 and 3 45.) 4.17 110 3n.27 64 54 De opiÀcio mundi (Opif.15 172 172 De specialibus legibus (Spec.13 121 121 120 3.30 37n. 277 Odyssea 12.67 79 100n.75 193n.index of passages cited Hermeias In Phaedrum 148.91 137n.82 212 112 156n. 8–10 Plato Alcibiades 1 129e 111a1–4 Cratylus 383a1–2 383a3 383a-384a 383a-391b3 384b3 384d2–5 385a 385b2–d1 386a8–b8 386b9–386d7 386d8–e5 386d9–e1 386e4–387d 386e6–387b7 129n.20 102 43n.25 122 112n.53 119n. 6f. 26–29 In Gorgiam 5.43 214 190n.78 Philoponus In Aristotelis Physica 96. 235 52n. 17–27 260. 2:19 Olympiodorus In Aristotelis Categorias 18.) 2. 1–2 §9 § 30 § 30. 19 9. 15 118 120 53 209n. 56n.) 14 52n. 15 154.41 2–5 11n. 113.20 De vita Moysis (Mos.2.67 De virtutibus (Virt. 114 9n.87 . 22–28 Hesiodus Theogonia 187–200 Hierocles In Carmen Aureum XXV XXXV Homerus Ilias 3. 55. 39–40 Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesim (QG) 1.) 13 70n.) 165 54 52n. 85 189 231 185n.

3 150n. 117 73 9n.67 411e4 ff.17. 105 170 86. 142a3–6 Phaedo 74a–d 102b Phaedrus 229c6–230a7 238c 247c 252b 265b2–c3 27 74 117 7n.49 . 56n.19 7–8 8n.57. 184–187 186 177 100 117 50 124n.47 50 63 74 213n.104 163 216 84 19 14n. 411e–412a 412a 412c7 ff.10 117 117 193 142n.72 6–8 139n.54 86.13 9n.40 189 40n. 414c5 415a–415e 415d4–5 421b 421b7 424b10 426b 426c1–3 427c8–d1 427d4–440e7 430d10–11 434c4–5 435c3–6 436b5–11 437a 437a4–5 437d10–438a2 438a3–b4 438d-e 439b4–8 439c3–4 439d5–6 440b4–6 Leges 644d8 714a1–2 803c4–5 893b Parmenides 130e5–131a2 135c1 135d5 142a3 ff. 391c10–392b2 391e–392b 392b–395e 393b–c 393c–394b 394d 394e8–11 394e–395d 395a–b 395c–e 396a 396a–b 396b 396b6–7 396b–c 396c 396c4 397a5–397c1 397b 397d4 397d4–5 398d–e 399c 400a8–10 400c 401c 401c4–9 401d 402b2–4 406b–d 406c2–3 407e1–408d5 408b–d 410d 411b 411b3–6 411d–412c 411e index of passages cited 118 120 120 118 122 3.40 83 141 83 83n. 39 139 52. 179n.58 5–6 102n. 147 156 114n. 15 50.16 34 6 7 51.77 74 105 40 177n.83 7n. 127 128 130 130 48. 117.25 193 181 19.9 117 52n.9 80 160n.59 162n. 189n. 414c4 ff.232 387a-388b 387b8–c3 387c6–10 387d10 388b 388b13–c1 388c9–389a4 389d–390a 390b–d 390e6–391a3 391b4–427d3 391b9–c5 391c10 ff.27 113 114n.4 123 125 128 126n. 81 89n.82 100n.85 50 40 50 213n. 105. 15n.97 91n.78.76 213n. 51 52n. 183 180 158n. 162n.67 117 6.13 67n.

39 65 65n. 352c c.6 63 86n. 375c–d c. 375c c. 351e c.77 158 16n.39 73n.18 84 64n. 19–25 Fragments 168F 274F 2–6 144n. Theaetetus 206d1–5 209c Timaeus 27d5–7 28b3–5 28c4–5 29b4–c3 29d2 29e1–3 36c4–5 37c6–d2 41a 41a–d 41c5f.12 169 183 116 116 145 143 145 180 152 152 152 142 142 152n. 23 91.8 64 63n. 7–10 V I [10] 3. 32–40 V 9 [5] 7 V 9 [5] 8.27 69n. 203n. 6–7 55. 2. 29. 7–8 VI 2 [43] 1. 32. 67.62 51 50 48 Quaestionum convivalium libri 715a 47 746b 47 Porphyrius De Abstinentia III 3 In Aristotelis Categorias 55.49 143 16 190n.4 137n. 17–21 VI 2 [43] 1. 3.index of passages cited Philebus 12c 16c Politicus 261e1–262a2 262c10–d8 268d–274e 272b8 272b–d 275d4–6 275e4–9 Respublica 375d-376a 378b8–e4 596a 596d7–e2 597b 619c6 Sophista 218d8–221c5 221b7–c3 261–263 263e3–5 267d4–e3 Symposium 207a5ff. 6 Plutarchus De Iside et Osiride c.9 233 47 48n. 18–23 I 3 [20] 5. 377f–378a 137n. 211–213 136 11 12 158n.54 19 107 148 128n. 3–7 55. 41d1–2 41e2–3 42d2–3 42d6 49d–e 110.87 10 10 24n.7 64n. 33.6 64n. 8–14 57.5 137n. 60.33 12n.27 63n. 14–28 V 8 [31] 1. 42–43 III 7 [45] 6.82 73n.6 124 65n. 38–39 III 9 [30] 6. 23 III 7 [45] 6.20 130 179n. 9–12 V 5 [32] 5.26 144n.20 144n.11 65 67n. 362d c.19 12n. 2–4 91.25 69 71 73 84 72 73 74 . 27–29 III 8 [30] 11.58 48 49 49n. 8–12 III 7 [45] 4. 60.85 143. 5–7 58.23 70n.6 67n. 21–23 VI 2 [43] 1. 30–31 VI 3 [44] 1. 30–33 VI 3 [44] 9. 364a c.57 84 Plotinus I 3 [20] 3 I 3 [20] 4. 363d c. 23–28 VI 2 [43] 1. 7–9 V 1 [10] 4. 36–38 IV 3 [27] 30.

1–4 XVI–XVII index of passages cited 74n. 22. 16–18 X p. 19 XVI p.43 74 70 XVII XVII p.59 98–101 109n. 5.81 102n. 13–18 73. 6–21 Elementatio Theologica Prop.21 90n.85 194n. 13. 7. 27. 118–121 121–122 113. 11–17 XIV p.107 157n.25 102n.85 156–159 150n.13 113 115 156n. 2. 122–3 122n. 24. 29–11. 8. 3–9 XLV p.44 102n. 1 XXX p. 26.43 75 74n.36 126n. 13.55 116 96–98 109n. 13.30 147 89–91 104n.61 121 121 121 121 120 120 120 120 114n. 4–7 XVIII XX p. 6. 10–18 XLII p. 19–20 LII LIII LIII p.34 109n. 19. 3. 25 LI p. 22 XVI p.21 102n.24 103–106 . 10–30 XLVI XLVII XLVIII XLIX L LI LI p. 19–27 XLIII p. 23–4 XIII p. 20–22 XXX p. 8–11 LVI LVI p. 17 ff. 123 157n. 18.25 99nn. 8.59 152n. 21–22 XVI p. 3. 7–8 II–IX IV p. 10. 24.19 105n.56 102n.103 85n. 211.3. 1–3 Hymni II 11–12 VII 11–15 In Alcibiadem 8.61 114n.43 195n. 12. 28–30 XL XLI p. In Cratylum I I p. 11.73 139–146 99n. 8. 13 79. 140 p. 1f. 2 XLIV p. 12. 20. 27–6.43 102n. 162–170 147n. 24–25 XXII XXIX p.56 113n. 24 X p.59 149–150 157n. 5.105 138n. 24–27 XXXIX p. 1–9 I p.45 102n. 4. 22.15 109n. 28–14. XXX p. 4–6 LIII p. 10. 10. 14–15 LXIV–LXVII LXV LXVI LXVII p. 26–27 LXIII LXIII p.32 146–147 148–151 152n. 5.49 159–160 113n. 19.70 171n.27 110 110n. 113. 5 LIV–LV LV p. 11 LI p. 21 IX p. 21 259 293. 210n.30 113n.26 101n. 21–259.27 114n.6 79n. 29. 6–12 LXX LXXI 106–109 36n. 1–4 14. 18–21 LI p.81 97 190n. 17–80. 10–13 22.61.12. 21–22 XXXVI–XXXVII XXXVIII XXXVIII p. 1. 14. 5. 17–20 XIV p. 6–24 X p. 1–6 XXXIII XXXIII p.73 154–155 155–156 159 160n.27 110 112–118 102n. 22 150 258. 11.5 94n. 125.24 102n. 20–24 LI p. 4. 5.234 356F 357aF 358F Rhetorica F 2a Sententiae 42 Proclus Chaldaean Philosophy V p.57 151–154 152n. 18–22 De Malorum Subsistentia 60. 114. 11. 5–10 XIV p. 23–26 XXX p. 17–18 LVII LVIII LXI LXI p. 8–75.43 135–139 137n. 4.73.73 171. 21–23 XVI p. 14 101n. 20. 14.27 162n.

27–32 IV 864. 32. 68–509. 16–20 CXV p. 35. 26 II 271. 44.13 70n.27 193 182n.22 170n. 151 150n. 7–20 VII 1174. 25 II 274. 30–211. 1–21. 43.62 147n. 2–5 153 148.90 88n. 90. 16–853. 7 V 990. 35 III 825. 15–84.108 102n. 2 III 10. 48. 10–278. 25–170.100 74n. 18–22 I 210. 108. 14 LXXII p.9 112n.85 195n.49 81–89 101 97n. 2–8 III 20. 32 I 272. 42.17 116 116 116n. 37. 24 ff.45 78n. 54. 40–986. 12–55. 25 I 98. 23–10. 11 V 982.76 88n. 9 CLXXXI p. 99.76 164 164n. 9–299.93 94 177 115n. 21 III 9. I 324. 19–21 V 985. 97 VII 510. 6 III 28. 50–62 VII 512. 16–19 LXXII–LXXIX LXXXI LXXXI p.77 155n.61 162n.94 88n.91 88n. 8 I 272.18 99n. 12–14 LXXXVIII LXXXVIII p.56 63n.12 166n. 12 V 1032.93 129n.64 143 83n. 57. 6–273. 22–24 CLXXXI p. 2–13 CIX p.27 170–172 123–125 124n. 23–28 IV 866. 20 I 274. 153 153 III 825.23 168n. 12–14 III 168.62 153 153. 1–17 V 1009. 48. 45. 66. 13–23 CVII p.62 192 193n.19 129n. 33. 12–24 II 274. 6 LXXXVIII p.5 150n.76 171 180 164n.19 164n. 19–9. 15–833. 7 I 99. 56. 10–274. 17–20 In Parmenidem I 628. 39.45 180–184 129n. 35–2062. 18–23 III 8. 22 CVI p.13 188–189 129n.95 177n. 19 CX CX p.98 149n.18 101n. 19–30 I 637.105 115n. 9–12 CLXXXI-CLXXXIII In Euclidem 16. 8–10 141. 43.62 115n. 26–28 LXXXII–LXXXIII LXXXV LXXXV p.44 144 .103 176n. 63. 59.49 128 235 186n. 76.93 174–175 180 180–184 177n.index of passages cited LXXI p. 13–18 171n.10 128–131 129n. 4–5 LXXXVIII p.78 125–127 129n.30 166n. 24–27 CLXXIV p. 9–20 III 222. 19–22 I 340. 89–509. 17 CXXXIII CLVI p.52 89n. 11 VII 508.93 177n. 107. 13 C–CII CIII p.28 147 170n. 31–99. 18–24 CLXXXI p. 21 III 829. 21–23 III 827.41 176 185n.90 171n.6 158n. 16 ff. 27–43.35 169n.93 88n. 25–6 CX–CXIII CXIII p. 5–6 XCIX XCIX pp.42 91n. 21 I 341. 7–9 LXXI p. 29 LXXXVIII p. 3–5 In Rempublicam I 27. 25–27 VI 1061. 13–26 I 99. 97 VII 508. 26–829. 155n. 4–9 VI 1061.41 189–191 160n.13 148 148. 14 XC p. 13–51.73 185n. 28 In Timaeum I 18. 6 V 1036. 7 CV pp. 53.62 193n. 11–25 II 255. 5 II 298. 11 IV 849. 19 III 824. 18–21 I 342.27 138n. 107. 1–7 III 29.93 98n. CVII p.26 104n. 56. 67. 12 IV 852. 20–27 VII 1191. 19–20 CXVI CXXVIII p.28 127–128 101n. 12–825. 45. 6–9 I 276.92 88n. 4–19 III 815. 23 XCVI XCVIII p. 2 II 169. 5–8 LXXXIX–XCV LXXXIX p.13 184–187 166n. 14–18 I 83. 7–274.

1–3 12. 83. 9–11 363. 12 363. 25–29. 23–82.68 183n. 9 ff. 21. 12–13 V 20 p. 25 IV 5 p. 17.75 158n. 23–125. 123. 33–36 In Aristotelis Physica 1249. 3 Adversus Mathematicos I 241–247 Simplicius In Aristotelis Categorias 2. 19–24.21 210n.14 165 178 185n. 13–15 12.82 141n. 10 I 6 p.25 129n.59 181–182 114 174n.67 145n. 36–340. 124. 4 I 6 p.98 187 157n.44 181n. 75. 80. 113 216n.6 III 333.64 183n. 14–17 Ps. 2 VI 3 p.64 183n.79 158n. 2–6 VI 22 p. 9–14 363. 12–17 Syrianus In Metaphysica 81. 15. 22–25 V 5 pp.19 207n.-Dionysius De divinis nominibus I1 I 5–6 IX Sextus Empiricus Adversus Logicos I 9.77 183n. 10 V 22 p. 5 V 22 p. 3–4 V 3 p. 18–19 12. 14–15 III 22 p.48 165 165n. 15–23 IV 23 p. 12–20 I 29 p. 20–21 I 29 p. 21.8 53 . 16. 2 I 29 p. 12–15 IV 23 p. 28.102 86n. 2 I 29 p.48 207n. 29. 7–14 VI 3 p. 29. 20–344.92 76n. III 342. 21–124. 192–193 Varro Fr. 24 Theologia Platonica I 5 p.28 78n. 25. 123. 69.54 76–77 78n. 18–23 I 5 pp. 124. 16. 6 V 20 p.24. 124.28 145n. 23. 9–13 81. 26 53.30 145n. 28 ff.18 207n. 98. 4–9 13. 16. 20–26 III 22 p. 26–26.31 145 142 111n. 21 V 6 p. 14–16 Trypho Trop.236 III 310. 7–12 I 29 p.53 77 78n.39 188n. 26.-Aristeas Epistula 16 index of passages cited 193n. 7–10 I 6 p. 80.28 145n. 81. 11–12 339. 13–27 I 5 p.20 208n.64 183n. 11–14 438. 3 V 7–8 pp. 125.75 186 192n. 69.85 107n.55 209n. 51. 9–311. 25.84 Ps. 26–28 13.48 216n.36 164n. 9–12 I 29 p.27 34n.10 168n.29 159n. 16–22 V 3 p.27 208 103 99 70n. 25. 21–30.49 216 38n. 124. 23–32 12.23 208 209 209n. 3–11 VI 1–5 VI 3 p. 7. 174 176n. 20–26 V 22 p. 72. 14–17 I 29 p. 82. 3–8 III 14 p.

116n. linguistic 6–8. 18–19 Cratylus passim ‘character’ 38. on the 201–205 Simplicius. on Cratylus and 201–205 arguments against. the divine dialectician 156–159 dialectical interpretation of Crat. 135–138. 28–29.63. 108n.74 ‘by nature’/ ‘by imposition’ 202–205 Categories. 46. 123. 118–123 112. 140–142. 201–205. 155–156 Categories 61–62. 68–73. 54 Aphrodite 189–191 arguments against Hermogenes 112–113. 89–91 ).42. 214–215 Damascius 211–213 Demiurge 131. 211–213. 161–197. chance ( 124. 137 dramatis personae 98–106 96–98. 214 divine language 162. virtue of language 57 deÀnition 25–26 language and philosophy 24–28 logos 22–24 names 20–24 Plato. 106. Àrst name-giver 53–56 Alcinous 37–43. 211–213 Derveni-papyrus 178–179 dialectic 4–5. 49. 189. convention ( 71. 150–159. 103–104. 28–29 Proclus 93–133 Cratylus 6–8 Proclus on 98–109 Ammonius on 202–203 .102 Epicurus 36–37 clarity 58 criticism of Plato 36–37. 57 Cronus 156–160. 64–67. 127–128 Chaos (Orphic deity) 166–167 clarity of language 57–58. 139–146. compared to 206–210 analogy 149–150. 95. 79–81. 168–170 a paradox? 170–172 divine name 46–51. 133 Ammonius. 65. 70. Proclus 106. relation to 22–24. 155–156. 81. 192 correctness of names Aristotle 27–29 Plato: two types of 17–19. 111 Dionysus 189–195. 191 divine name-giver 142–147 king Dionysus 192–195 Democritus 22. 104–106. 106–109 essential deÀnition see nominal deÀnition Ether (Orphic deity) 166 μ 129 etymology Alcinous 38–39 Aristotle 27–28 correctness of 14–15. 135–139 curriculum. 89–91. place in 78–79. 178. 166. 91–92. 123n. 132n. 8–17 Socrates. 76–78. 110–112. 180–184. 134–139 Cronus. 114–118 ‘persuasive’ 112. 129n.92. 76. 37–38. 69. 55 Proclus on 36. 187. 208–210 Basil of Caesarea 124 Egg (Orphic deity) 166–167 58. 99. 216 Antiochus of Ascalon 43–46. 74. 89. 136 Ammonius 94. 208 Cornutus 35–36. 162 Aristotle 41. 114. 104–106.INDEX OF SUBJECTS AND NAMES Adam. 121–122. 213–217 4 types of 168–170 ). 82. the human dialectician 159–160 Diodorus Cronus 82. 45. 118. 205–206 clarity. 107–108. on the 205–206 Cratylus. names given by 100. 74–75. 54–55. 109 title of 42–43. 61. 82–83.

208 artifacts.84 Olympiodorus 213–216 pedagogical function of 187–192 Philo of Alexandria 52–53 Plotinus 63–64 Porphyry 73–75 Proclus’ method of 129. 89–90 Orpheus 146. 181–182. 37–38 . 87–88. 89. 39–41. 189–191 notion ( Olympiodorus 213–216 One. 121. 145.34 Homer 114. 165–166. 13. 152. 189n. 70. 69–70. the 163–164. 104. 79 ) nature. of 151–154 Plato. 106–109 two senses of names ‘by nature’ 33–34 76–78 nominal deÀnition 26. 180–184 Socrates does not practice etymology 5n. of the young gods 192–195 Plotinus 62–67. 111. 27. 96. 76–81. 193. 18–19. 185. 15–16. 52–53. 185. 173–195. 109–123 Hesiod 177. 73. a 128–129 Euthyphro 179. by ( Alcinous 41–43 Ammonius on ‘by nature’ 202–205 Iamblichus 71 Plato 2–5 Proclus on ‘by nature’ 82–83. 162. 148 Galen 56–58 grammarians. ancient 129 Henads 163–164 Heraclitus the Paradoxographer 192 Hermes 159–160 Hermogenes 2–5. 210 Iamblichus 71.7 Stoics 34. 188–189 evil 126 Form 18–19. 13–19.238 index of subjects and names instrument of education playthings 193–195 187–188 Cratylus. 144 attitude towards Aristotle 68–69. on 20–24. of 123–125. 148–151 matter. 122–123. example of inspired name 168 μ name Aristotle. 135–142. 26–29. 110 Metis 166 monsters. 208–209. triad of 157 Intellect in us 194 name-giver. 49–51. 91. 84–88. 64. 77–78. 105. 136–137 Plutarch of Chaironeia 46–51. 73. 81. 174. 104 patron divinities of the arts 150 personal names 123–131 cluster theory of. 83–84. 190. S. Àrst 7. 75. 154–155 divine. as 142–147 intelligible gods. 172. 131. 168–170. 64–67. 189 Hierocles of Alexandria 79. 208–209 Cronus. 211n. 72. 157. of 4. 34–35. 36–37. 119. 159–160. 86–87. 90. 133. Proclus 98–101 tool. philosophical 3–4. 84–86. 72–73. 82 154 132 μ 105. 174 homonymy 64–67. Searle’s 124 of 123–125 failed names 125–127 how to explain correct 127–128 Phanes 166–168 Philo of Alexandria 52–56 plaything. naming of 125–127 myths Christians and 215–216 . 216 oracles 171 ordinary language 17–19. see ‘divine names’ form. on 2–20 stability of 114–118 two types of. of 148–151 individuals. 154–155 Intellect (N ) 104. 115. 209. 34–35. 77–78. 211–217 name-givers. 87–88 ) 46. 196 μ 105 Kripke. 37–38 Galen 56–57 game at symposia 47. 126. names of 165–167 ‘Iunges’. 26–28 barbaric 48–49. 57–58. 213–215 Orphic myth of Dionysus 194–195 Orphic theogony 175–179 87. 53–56. in 5–6. 203–204 Proclus on 98–106. 18–19.

193 Zeus 131. 52. 181–182 tacitly critized by Proclus 190 syllogistic reformulation 118–121 symbols. 160. 103. 49. 208–209 ‘Áower of intellect’ 175 image-making power of 139–142 salvation of 192–195. names of the members of the house of 128–131 Theodorus of Asine 83. 156–160. 132n. 191. 174 scholia 94 Simplicius 205. 159–160 soul 96–98. 191. 146–147. 150. philosopher as umpire ( 103. Orphic and Neoplatonic theology 175–179. 170. 185 239 Tantalus. 165–166. 55. theurgical 146–147 synonymy 84–85. 176. 208–209 writing tablet. 179.102 ) 99. 44–46. 124. 111. H. 178. names of 169–170 Uranus 178. 104 communicate. 214–215 etymology of 180–184 . compared to 160 statues. 213–217 theology 35–36. 57. 154–155. 202. 170 Time (Orphic deity) 166–167 Titans 194. 184–187. 152–154. 82–92. 103 puzzles ( Pythagoras 90. 106. 46–51. 211–217 Neoplatonic theology and Christianism 215–217 Proclus on etymology and 173–187 theurgy 140–142. of gods 74–75. 111. 51. 146. 206–210 Socrates. needs language to 171. 38–39. 211–213 Stoics 33–36. 145 Universe. 139–142. 214 young gods 99. 205 prayers 171 119 Ps. 136. 119. 103–104.index of subjects and names Porphyry 68–78. 214 ). 210 Syrianus 99. 212–213. 196 theogony. 74. Proclus on 98–101. 175. 180.-Dionysius 216–217 Putnam. 184–187. 194.


Testimonia. 1969. den. ISBN 90 04 01729 1 18. 1973.T. ISBN 90 04 04402 7 29. B. On the Philosophy of Aristotle. Kal. 1988. Evangeliou. Teil 2. Gersh. F. Alexander of Aphrodisias on the Stoic Physics. J. 1986. A Study of the De Mixtione with Preliminary Essays. In Platonis dialogos commentariorum fragmenta. Ch. 1982. Epiktet. Drossaart Lulofs. Todd. N. E. ISBN 90 04 07510 0 46. Gould. Aristotle’s Categories and Porphyry. ISBN 90 04 04372 1 28. Die Weltentstehung des platonischen Timaios nach den antiken Interpreten. L. Aspekte der platonischen Kosmologie. Marg. O’Brien. J. D. ROWE. ISBN 90 04 03578 8 24. ISBN 90 04 06505 9 41. With Introduction. ISBN 90 04 05770 6 35. Dillon.J. Baltes. M. RUNIA. V. 1979. Baltes. Timaios Lokros. Herausgegeben und übersetzt mit einem Kommentar von M.PHILOSOPHIA ANTIQUA A SERIES OF STUDIES ON ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY EDITED BY K. Billerbeck. The Two Theories of the ‘Timaeus’. Überlieferung. Untersuchungen zum Dialog ‘Timaios’. An English Translation of Galen’s De Captionibus (On Fallacies). Filiations intellectuelles et spirituelles d’un néo-platonicien du Ve siècle. Calcidius on Fate. 1972. 1973. W. ISBN 90 04 04869 3 34. Ch. 1978. J. A Critical Study with a Collection of the Related Texts and Commentary. Le Néo-Platonisme Alexandrin: Hiéroclès d’Alexandrie. 1976. The Philosophy of Chrysippus. Mnésithée et Dieuchès. D. Theories of Weight in the Ancient World. 1972. Scheffel. Editio maior. Tarán. 1966. L. M. R. Structures hiérarchiques dans la pensée de Plotin. ISBN 90 04 03784 5 27.B. ISBN 90 04 01726 7 17. Text. De natura mundi et animae. Proklos. Edlow.A. MANSFELD C. S. ISBN 90 04 03468 4 21.A. Galen on Language and Ambiguity. Timaeus Locrus. ISBN 90 04 05799 4 39. 1975. Plato’s Seventh Letter. Étude historique et interprétative. A Study in the Development of Ideas 2. O’Meara. Four Essays on Democritus. 1972. B. Translated from the Syriac with an Introduction and Commentary by H.1984. Iamblichus Chalcidensis. On Intuition and Discursive Reason in Aristotle. Reprint 1971. Edited with Translation and Commentary by J. A Study of Spiritual Motion in the Philosophy of Proclus. 1988. ISBN 90 04 03505 2 26. Edelstein. ALGRA. Boeft. Translation and Commentary. Fragments of the First Five Books. ISBN 90 04 01730 5 20. ISBN 90 04 08538 6 . Nicolaus Damascenus. His Doctrine and Sources. ISBN 90 04 03344 0 23. Kommentiert von M. DE HAAS. 1970. 1976. J. Vom Kynismus. Aujoulat. Plato: Weight and Sensation. Κ νησις κ νητος. ISBN 90 04 01725 9 14. Reprint of the 1st (1965) ed. Plato and Aristotle. Speusippus of Athens. Über die Natur des Kosmos und der Seele. D. Text und Übersetzung von W. Text and Commentary. WILDBERG Recent volumes in the series 13. R.ISBN 90 04 06934 8 45.J. 1977. ISBN 90 04 08308 1 48. Bertier. ISBN 90 04 04509 0 31. J.

P. I: Introduction.W. J. ISBN 90 04 09819 4 60. ISBN 90 04 09015 0 51. F. Hadot et J. Cleary. M. 1990. (eds. Traduction commentée sous la direction de I. ISBN 90 04 10172 1 66. K. Commentaire et notes à la traduction par I. 1992. 1997. Logic and the Imperial Stoa. Ways into the Logic of Alexander of Aphrodisias. ISBN 90 04 10446 1 71. ISBN 90 04 10914 5 .L. de. Henosis. 1993. Hadot. (Hrsg. Magee. Mahé. 1996. Argument and Refutation in the De Placitis Books II-III.-L. Der Platoniker Tauros in der Darstellung des Aulus Gellius. P. 13 Kalbfleisch). ISBN 90 04 09963 8 61. D. 1995. Aporetic Method in Cosmology and Metaphysics. Dorandi. 1996.T. Slomkowski.. Theophrastus of Eresus. J. Galen and Chrysippus on the Soul. Hadot et C. Sharples. Hadot. L’Union à Dieu chez Denys l’Aréopagite. R. A. Prolegomena. Algra. ISBN 90 04 10757 6 75. Barnes. Heresiography in Context. ISBN 90 04 10096 2 64. K. M. 1996. ISBN 90 04 10520 4 69. The One and Its Relation to Intellect in Plotinus. Studies in the History and Historiography of Ancient Philosophy. 1018). Writings. 1-9. 1995. Commentaire sur les Catégories. Questions to be Settled Before the Study of an Author.49.A. Edizione. théodicée gnostique. van der. ISBN 90 04 09772 4 67. Hadot avec des appendices de P. 1997. ISBN 90 04 09476 8 56. ISBN 90 04 09597 7 59. ISBN 90 04 09616 7 57. 1992. Sources for His Life. ISBN 90 04 10417 8 73. Hoffmann (avec la collaboration d’I. Aristotle’s De insomniis. Flannery. Presented to Jaap Mansfeld on his Sixtieth Birthday. Mansfeld. Aristotle and Mathematics. 21-40. Simplicius. and Runia. ISBN 90 04 10580 8 74. A Commentary. Sources for his Life. ISBN 90 04 10828 9 76. B. 1995. Commentaire au premier chapitre des Catégories (p.) Theodor Gomperz. de. Horst. Traduction de Ph. et P. 1997. Y. Studies in Cicero’s Academic Books. Fortenbaugh. traduzione e commento a cura di T. 1995. ISBN 90 04 09618 3 58. D. Commentaire et notes à la traduction par C. et al. 1990. P. John Philoponus’ New Definition of Prime Matter. T. (eds. (eds.) Polyhistor. ISBN 90 04 08996 9 50. Commentaire sur le manuel d’Épictète.T. Algra. A Commentary on Selected Texts. Traduction de Ph. Dorandi. The Cratylus. Luna). Simplicius. Commentaire sur les Catégories.J. Aristotle’s Topics. Eine Auswahl herkulanischer kleiner Schriften (1864-1909). Tieleman. Haas.A. S. Concepts of Space in Greek Thought. J.-P. or a Text. W. Inwood. Writings. August 21-25. 1994..W. 3 Kalbfleisch). Théodicée plotinienne. Hadot). s. Boethius on Signification and Mind. Thought and Influence.) Theophrastes of Eresos. The Method and Intellectual Context of a Doxographer. Thought and Influence. 1993. Commentary Volume 5. J. ISBN 90 04 09998 0 63. Bussanich. ISBN 90 04 10174 8 65. 1997. Filodemo. ISBN 90 04 09016 9 52. 1997. 1989. Proceedings of the 7th Symposium Hellenisticum (Utrecht.. 1994. 1995). J. Living Creatures. Aëtiana.j. III: Préambule aux Catégories. Hippolytos’ Elenchos as a Source for Greek Philosophy. Plato’s Critique of Naming. ISBN 90 04 09440 7 set 55. Mansfeld. D. Sources on Biology (Human Physiology. ISBN 90 04 10656 1 72. ISBN 90 04 09096 7 54. Baxter. Volume 1: The Sources. 1988. Luna. W. Lakmann. première partie (p. 1995. ISBN 90 04 10084 9 62. and Runia.J. Andia. Shankman. Introduction et édition critique de texte grec par Ilsetraut Hadot. Hoffmann (avec la collaboration d’I. J. Aspects of its Background in Neoplatonism and the Ancient Commentary Tradition. 1995. J. Storia dei filosofi. La stoà da Zenone a Panezio (PHerc.) Assent and Argument. O’Brien. T. Hadot. and Mansfeld. Mansfeld. T. Botany: Texts 328-435). Simplicius. J. ISBN 90 04 10159 4 68. K. 1992. Traduction commentée sous la direction de I.

Peripatetic Dialectic in the De sensibus. ISBN 90 04 12890 5 94. G. Berg. 2000. H. 2001. ISBN 90 04 14247 9 98. 2000. With Contributions on the Arabic Material by D. J. Commentary Volume 3. On Sweat. Theophrastus of Eresus. Lycos & H. C. 2 volumes. Kleine Schriften zur hellenistisch-römischen Philosophie. Writings. ISBN 90 04 11719 9 85. Sollenberger. Gutas. J. on Dizziness and on Fatigue. Iamblichus De Anima. Bäck. Aristotle. & R. Proclus’ Hymns. Pseudo-Zeno. Akten der Konferenz in Jena am 18. Hypothetical Syllogistic and Stoic Logic. 2001. Riel. ISBN 90 04 11130 1 80. Translation.W. and Shirinian. 2006. M. G. J. Van. Text. ISBN 90 04 12998 7 95. ISBN 90 04 13742 4 97.. Sharples. Dillon. M. Theophrastus of Eresus. Jackson. Aenesidemus’ Appropriation of Heraclitus. Translated with the Collaboration of J. Semantics in Aristotle’s Strategy of Argument. and the Neoplatonists. and Commentary. P. (ed. Commentary Volume 4. ISBN 90 04 11524 2 84. Perkams. Tarrant. and Commentary. Translations. Sources for his Life. & comm. A. ISBN 90 04 13736 X 96. ISBN 90 04 12073 4 88. With an Appendix on Pappus and the History of Platonism. Speca. R. 2002. Runia. Sources for his Life. 2001. Introduction by H. Plato.1. 1999. 2000.E.M. Stone. Boter. Finamore. ISBN 90 04 12236 2 91. W. The Works on Logic. ISBN 90 04 10972 2 79. 2002 ISBN 90 04 12510 8 93.T. 1999. Commentary Volume 8.) Proklos. W.. Critical Edition. Translation. Magee. R. Thought and Influence. Tarrant. Rijk. The Metaphysics. Prolegomena. Seelenlehre.M. Sources on Rhetoric and Poetics (Texts 666-713). Thought and Influence. Writings. L.W. Trois Études sur la Tradition des Commentaires Anciens à la Métaphysique d’Aristote. General Introduction. Commentary on Plato’s Gorgias. T. ISBN 90 04 11358 4 83. 1998. Huby. 2002. & A. de. Aristotle – Semantics and Ontology. From Apollonius of Perga to Late Neoplatonism. tr.) Anicii Manlii Severini Boethii De divisione liber. Essays.M. The Sceptical Road. Metaphysik. ISBN 90 04 12467 5 92. ISBN 90 04 12324 5 Volume II. Tieleman. D. Sources for His Life. Transmission and Critical Editions. Piccione (Hrsg.) Traditions of Theology. 2001. M.E. 2003. The Encheiridion of Epictetus and Its Three Christian Adaptations. W. Olympiodorus. Theophrastus of Eresus. ISBN 90 04 11267 7 81.F. Anonymous Philosophical Treatise. ISBN 90 04 15084 6 .M. ISBN 90 04 10873 4 78. its Background and Aftermath. Herausgegeben von C. Sources on Physics (Texts 137-223).W. 1998. Commentary. & M. Reconstruction and Interpretation. ISBN 90 04 12264 8 90. Catrein. ISBN 90 04 120074 2 89. R. Mansfeld. Chrysippus’ On affections. K. 1998. Görler. Volume I. Laks (eds. Pleasure and the Good Life. R. Mansfeld and D. ISBN 90 04 11317 7 82.77. 2000/ ISBN 90 04 11720 2 87. Prolegomena Mathematica. Studies in Hellenistic Theology. Theophrastus against the Presocratics and Plato. Thought and Influence. September 2003. 2003. & J. 1998. 2004. van den. Translated with Full Notes by R.W. Frede. 2005. Luna. Methode. ISBN 90 04 11797 0 86. Baltussen. Psychology (Texts 254-327).G. Theophrastus of Eresus. Fortenbaugh.-20. Aristotle’s Theory of Predication.T. Writings. Sharples. A. With Contributions on the Arabic Material by Dimitri Gutas. Polito. Fortenbaugh. 2004.

On his Psychology. D’Ancona. March 12-14. M. 18-20 September 2003). Proceedings of the Meeting of the European Science Foundation Network “Late Antiquity and Arabic Thought. Michel Cacouros. P. (ed. 2007. 2006. ISBN-10: 90 04 15298 9. Theophrastus of Eresus. On the Vicissitudes of an Epicurean Doctrine. ISBN 90 04 15094 3 100. Brancacci. ISBN-10: 90 04 15160 5. Huby. Introduction à l’Agathologie Platonicienne.). Commentary Volume 2. Bonelli.99. Cristina D’Ancona. ISBN 978 90 04 15668 5 106. The Arts. D.C. 2006. ISBN 978 90 04 16046 0 111. and the Care of the Soul. 2007. Proclus’ Commentary on the Cratylus in Context. Politics and Rhetoric. ISBN 978 90 04 15670 8 107. Mirhady.-M. 2008. 2007. Destrée (eds. ISBN 978 90 04 16379 9 . 2007. On Weather Signs. Patterns in the Constitution of European Culture” held in Strasbourg. ‘Live unnoticed ’. Essays in Honor of William W. ISBN 978 90 04 16171 9 112. Schäfer. Thought and Influence. Morel (eds. 2007. & C.). Berg. R. ISBN 978 90 04 15669 2 110. ISBN-13: 978 90 04 15298 4 104. van den. Roskam. Translation. & P. Aristotle on Definition. ISBN 978 90 04 15887 0 109. composed by Matthias Baltes†. Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Democritus (Paris. Sider. Akrasia in Greek Philosophy. M.W. Influences on Peripatetic Rhetoric. Ethics. Philosophy of Dionysius the Areopagite. Sources for his Life. Aristotle’s Practical Side. With Contributions on the Arabic Material by Dimitri Gutas. C.). Bobonich. Text. ISBN-13: 978 90 04 15160 4 103. Henri Hugonnard Roche. ISBN-13: 978 90 04 15164 2 102. D. Gerhard Endreß. 2007. Interpretation. Theophrastus of Eresus. Democritus: Science. Le Philèbe de Platon. Brunschön (eds. 2007. Timée le Sophiste: Lexique Platonicien. From Socrates to Plotinus. Aristotle on Memory and Recollection. ISBN-10: 90 04 15593 7. W. Delcomminette. Fortenbaugh. & P.). 2007. Tiziano Dorandi. The Libraries of the Neoplatonists. Philippe Hoffmann.). A. 2007. 2004 under the impulsion of the Scientific Committee of the meeting. S. ISBN-13: 978 90 04 15593 0 105. 2006. An Introduction to the Structure and the Content of the Treatise On the Divine Names. ISBN 90 04 15026 9 101. ISBN 978 90 04 15641 8 108. 2007. Deslauriers. Logic. ISBN-10: 90 04 15164 8. Bloch. Writings.M.W. Fortenbaugh. C. (ed. and Reception in Western Scholasticism. C. G. Ancient Theories of Language and Naming. D.

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